Posted by News Express | 14 March 2016 | 3,138 times
A 14-year-old child accompanied her father, a longtime politician, to events where she learned the importance of connecting with others. The father told her: “Everyone has something to offer, and to never forget anyone because they could help along the way.” Since then wherever she finds herself, she has always gone around the room introducing herself.
Most people understand that to be successful, they need to network. But actually going out and doing it is another matter. People are daunted by the task, and believe it requires inauthentic, uncomfortable behaviour, and that it is an activity that is inconsistent with focusing on job performance. Too often, people view networking as something that “is not them” or that they could not see themselves doing. But networking ability is not just important for career success; “it is crucial for getting things accomplished and making change inside organisations in both the public and private sector.”
From experience, ability to build relationships, and an efficient and effective social network, has given the world the youngest of people serving as members on the boards of big corporations and trustees of public sector organisations. Others are finding careers in their chosen fields, as well as owning investment funds and strategic equities in blue chip companies and influential organisations, as well as in community interest enterprises/organisations, while some others are serving in various capacities in different levels of government in our nation.
People giving to being big-tent persons, who are in the habit of planning events and themed parties, end up not only delivering entertaining events but also providing opportunities for bringing people together. These events naturally lead to networks that would last beyond the now. The impact and benefits of the ability to make connections would not stop there, as it opens doors to fast-tracked accomplishments and friendships/partnerships for life.
Someone said that “life is an adventure in opportunities”; therefore making the most of it would definitely require contributions from other people, and how best would it be achieved than to hasten one’s efforts at building business connections, especially at the influential and diversified levels. People are the name of the game and it takes people to make life and all objectives/missions count.
SOME OF THE STEPS TO MAKING CONNECTIONS
Time Counts: Researches have shown that “being even one step removed from the person within the network almost completely reduces the benefits to you.” The implication is, simply put, Networking is not Something that Can, or Should, be outsourced. You must get to work on this and get it going, learning all the skills and practices of building contacts and making friends. They are vital to your success in both life and business and would surely be needed someday, so the earlier the better.
Find a Mutual Connection: People are the name of the game – you must understand how to read people quickly and find what you have in common. With so much public information out there, it is easier to do that today. You are more likely to get a response from someone if you have already found a shared interest or acquaintance in advance of introducing yourself.
Create a Robust Network: Identify your interests and through research learn who to connect with (to further your progression in this area of interest), someone that you share some level of affinity. All of a sudden, you will discover that you have him on your radar in a big way.
Be Specific: CEOs are busy people and therefore are unlikely to respond to vague requests or take on the burden of finding ways to help you. Help them to help you by making a specific request. For instance, I advise that if you are meeting an executive, that you go prepared and submit a brief one-page proposal in which you may ask for an internship and offer to work for awhile without compensation. The reason is that you could not let high-profile executives think for you. It is better to give them something tangible to consider, because once you have left their presence, they are not going to spend more time thinking about you.
Be Diverse: Clearly, it is important to link up to the influencers in your intended field. But do not underestimate the importance of “weak ties”. It is important to create a diverse network of diverse people, diverse industries and diverse locations, though these connections may seem remote to your present career or contemplated future. Diversity can also help when seeking funding for a startup.
Do What You Say You Will: Do not over-promise and under-deliver, but instead maintain credibility by doing the follow-up work to always meet your commitments. In financial parlance, it is easier to exceed expectations if those expectations are not completely over the top or in your face. By keeping your promises, your reputation spreads throughout your network. The action of moving things from A to B or following through as promised builds a surprisingly rare reputation that can be leveraged in a number of ways as it builds the confidence of others.
Be Genuine and Authentic: The more you pursue your passion, the more compelling your story will be when you share it with someone either by email or in person. People can see through your words to the unspoken words of your body movement and passion, bellowing through your words, whether in written or audio formats, or delivered in person.
Think Long-term: When you are undergoing an internship, performing a contract or seeking for an investment, you are creating and building your connections, which will someday led you to a billionaire somewhere, who would be ready to invest substantially into your project, and as he contributes whatever amount he is comfortable with. This success would build a track record for you, and in the process, cementing relationships with people who would be “with you for a lifetime” once they had seen what you could accomplish and gotten comfortable investing together.
Consider Your Approach: Crafting emails can be an art sometimes, always take time to think of the subject line. Try to write something there that reflects a connection. For example, if you are a student and you are contacting an alumnus, you could write “Current – mention your school – Student Inquiry,” as most alumni enjoy hearing from current students for a number of reasons.
Stay in Touch and Give Back: An easy way to keep in touch with those in your network is to send them emails now and then, introducing them to people who will be helpful additions to their networks. And, respond when others seek to add you to their circles. Also to be around in their times of needs, as well as celebrations, always seeking out their welfare and, being of service and available to minister to their needs.
•Lawrence Nwaodu is a small business expert and enterprise consultant, trained in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, with an MBA in Entrepreneurship from The Management School, University of Liverpool, United Kingdom, and MSc in Finance and Financial Management Services from Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University Netherlands. Mr. Nwaodu is the Lead Consultant at IDEAS Exchange Consulting, Lagos. He can be reached via email@example.com (07066375847).
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