It is true that career networking can connect you to your promotion, next move, sponsorship, etc. School and corporate rules of thumb has taught many professionals that networking is next big thing to do to attract the huge break. To milk career networking opportunities, people have stuck to getting phone numbers, pitching ideas or asking for favours at events. The purpose of networking is been abused.
Professionals and students alike, debate networking questions like:
• How many networking events do I need to attend to make it?
• Is it possible I am approaching networking the wrong way?
• Are there right ways to network?
• How do businessmen feel when people ambush them for photos, contact detail?
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My Career Networking Lesson
Once upon a time, I called a business owner, whom I admire a lot. For the first two minutes we spoke on the phone, he had no memory of who I was, how I got his number or whether we indeed met at the venue I claim we met at. It was embarrassing. That day I learnt that networking alone led to empty transactions, not rich relationships.
People in authority will ‘mind you’ only if you bring value, not a pitch, to the table.
That was the day I realised career networking was a complete waste of my time. I was going about networking the wrong way.
I know many business executives who attend every business meeting, forum, and meetups in corporate Ghana. Because they’ve been advised to pack their contact, they go to check the ‘I was here some’ box and to harvest call cards. We can say they have relevant contacts; nonetheless, these contacts add nothing to them.
The Next Career Networking Move
Don’t hear me wrong when I say networking is a waste of my time. I still attend those events I really need to be at. What I mean is that there needs to be a strategy bit to how one networks.
I have a fresher perspective now. The perspective is that accomplishments can make a top-tier business man strike a conversation with you. Not only that, the business man or woman will take the pain to remember you after the conversation.
• It is remarkably hard to engage with important people unless you’ve already put something valuable out into the world.
• Achievement show you have something to give, not just something to take.
• The best way to attract a mentor is to create something worthy of the mentor’s attention and time.
• Instead of struggling to push your way into some big man’s schedule, do something interesting or significant. They will pull you in (the network comes to you).
• It’s critical to produce a portfolio that proves your potential.
• Accomplishments can build your network only if other people are aware of them. You have to put your work (ideas) out there.
• Go to events with a purpose to share an idea or help another.
• It’s good to know people. People will only stick their necks out for you based on what you have to offer.
• Building a powerful network just requires of you to be an expert at something. Let your ideas do the talking, not the business card.
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How to network the right way
1. Don’t go to any networking event with a personal agenda. People naturally can smell your motives from across the room.
2. Never dismiss anyone as unimportant; some great people are very unassuming.
3. To get other people to notice you at an event, ask very insightful questions. The quality of your questioning speaks volumes about your personality.
4. Pay attention (as if your life depended on it) and connect the dots at all times.
5. Form genuine friendship, not contacts with people you meet. Once the person you meet senses your genuineness, he or she will flow with you.
6. Randomly and without any agenda, follow-up with people you meet. Maintaining and connection culture 101.
Conclusion On Networking
Michelangelo once said. “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”
No matter what happens, don’t fret about networking or going to networking events. Truth is, no one really mixes at mixers; although we plan to meet new people, we usually end up hanging out with old friends and known faces.
I have resolved to prepare my success story now without necessarily being in a hurry to get noticed. For 2018 and beyond, I pledge to blog and write more; invest in PR courses/trainings/tools the world over.
Let me leave you with a quote from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:
“The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.”
By all means, let’s meet at the top sharing success stories.
Paa Kwesi Forson
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