Link up: the essentialities of networking

The business of writing
Samuel Agyeman-Prempeh is a corporate trainer and professional ghost-writer assisting busy executives to write and publish their books, articles, and speeches

You still think it doesn’t matter who you know and who knows you?

The competitive nature of the job market makes it invaluable to forge varied strategic relationships; hence, networking skills cannot be overemphasised. It is a widely-held perception that people do business with people who know them. The ‘referee’ section on your CV is critical because employers, among other things, consider a third-party recommendation to endorse your validity.

Many get hired for a job based on high recommendations and not necessarily their qualifications. Corporate organisations rely on proof of your CV, and this is given by someone who knows you. If you claim to be a good team player, hard working or efficient, who can prove this? Some institutions go to the extent of doing thorough background checks and investigations before hiring.

Credibility and assurance in the corporate world can be attained from people you might have encountered one way or another, or those who have some form of relations with you. If you believe you have what it takes: show up, speak up, get known, and strike an acquaintance. Start and sustain a good relationship – that contact could be the stakeholder for your next job! Delist the “I don’t know anyone” chorus from your mind. Please, know someone; let someone know you. Here are some tips to ensure this:

Be an approachable and open-minded person:

Desire to reach out to people to build relations. Do not hold back when someone tries to get connected to you. Learn to be professional enough to keep your network as such, and draw the limits when you have to in order to prevent ulterior motives. However, do so respectfully and learn to be graceful, no matter how ‘wrongly’ you might have been approached. Learn to stomach your nerves and respond politely as the professional you are. Affability is a good trait for growth in your career.

First impressions count, learn to do your best, the first:

When you meet someone for the first time, make sure you leave a good impression. Engage the person well in a conversation, show your interest or knowledge in their field or what they do; do not look on aloof and without any meaningful expression. Desist from snubbing them or leaving a question that leaves the conversation awkward and hanging.

No matter your mood at the point, ensure you relate perfectly with the person. You might be talking to Africa’s next Aliko Dangote or the world’s next Bill Gates – or better still, an investor who could turn your career and company around – without even knowing. Therefore, whatever you do or say to a person for the first time really matters.

Take advantage of corporate forums and events to socialise:

Those who are well-known are by far those who commit themselves to being known. You cannot sit in the comfort of your home or office and expect to be known by people. There are a host of corporate forums and events happening both virtually and in person, of which you need to take advantage. Register for any of such events, get interactive and engage people. Do not be in a hurry to leave after such events without even talking to anyone. At least say “hi” to someone at the car park, exchange business cards with someone, speak to someone about what you do and ask questions on work as well.

Social media, the new norm:

Get connected with people via social media platforms. Every professional at least needs a LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook account. Share your pictures so people get to know who they are personally dealing with. Invite people to connect, follow the ‘gurus’ in your field, and be kind enough to like and comment on their posts. You might not know when you will draw their attention to check out your profile. Make sure you are at least active on some social media platforms, so you can build an attractive brand and get people interested in what you do.

Keep a ‘clean sheet’ always:

Ensure you do not mar any of your relations. What people say about you can grant you a lifetime opportunity or prevent you from attaining one. Learn to master emotional intelligence as you link up with people of influence. Don’t give a chance for anything negative to be said about you. Be on your best behaviour always when dealing with people. No matter how bad their character may be, do not give room to reciprocate such attitudes in the same form. Be temperate, polite and gentle always.

Build valuable relationships at all these levels. Your colleagues and roommates will be the important decision-makers you need in your circle of friends fast forward. Your ability to build a significant relationship with a key person is even a skill to have them recommend you for that role. Don’t be dull, get connected.

In addition to all you think you know and have, a single phone call from a referral letter of recommendation and/or word of mouth endorsement may be your game-changer. Become a person of value on your job to give your contracts a run for their referral.

>>>The writer is a corporate trainer and professional ghost-writer assisting busy executives to write and publish their books, articles and speeches. He has served as Head of Protocol at a diplomatic mission, Corporate Affairs Officer at a French multinational agribusiness and as Events and Media Correspondent for a digital ad agency. You can contact the author via:

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