Hello ya’ll and welcome once again. If you know me, you’ll know that I loooove networking. Why? Every single job and business contract I’ve ever had since I started working has been through my network. I even found my boo through my network *blushing*! Networking is a game changer; the people we surround ourselves with and the environment we find ourselves in change everything. I strongly believe it is an essential skill that every single person – especially students and startups – has to hone.
You see, no matter your educational background or your products and services, if people don’t know you, it becomes difficult to get to where you want to get to. God willing on 20th July, 2021 (public holiday), I will be hosting a Networking Masterclass to share in depth on how to build and sustain meaningful relationships with people. For now, I’m just going to serve you a tip of the iceberg. Here are four tips for attracting a great network:
Be courageously authentic
First of all, be OK with being yourself because you are fabulous. Many times we are not comfortable being ourselves because we feel other people may judge us and not approve of us. When we don’t act as ourselves, we attract people who like the ‘fake’ version of us. And then we have to keep pretending to be that fake version. Why not be ourselves (our best selves) and attract people who like our true self? This way, we don’t have to keep faking and can learn and grow in an environment we enjoy being in.
For instance, I once had a really fantastic job in one of the northern regions of Ghana. I was curious to find out why I was chosen for that job so I asked the organizer. He replied that during a previous conference we had attended, I got up and created a joke which made everyone laugh. He said it was then that her realised I was the kind of person he wanted on his team; down to earth. Now, imagine a scenario in which I had faked being ‘all-serious-and-no-play’, I would attract people who appreciated that, and then would have to keep pretending to be like that.
Being courageously authentic may of course mean some opportunities will pass you by. This happens when for instance, you are not hired for a certain job because your values are not aligned. This is OK. It is not every opportunity that has your name on it. I’ve been on a few platforms where I couldn’t deliver because I didn’t enjoy the space I was operating in. I believe strongly that those who must love you will, don’t worry about the rest. Pretending is hard anyway and being yourself makes you relatable. Think like this ‘I am such a beautiful person within, and I want you to meet me’.
Ever judged anyone based on their appearance? Let’s bow down our heads and ask for God’s mercies. We tend to judge people based on looks and appearances so we become choosy about who to connect with. I was once selling a product which was over 1000 dollars. My target market was corporate women in business because I thought they could afford that kind of product. I had this lady in my network who reached out to me to make enquiries about the product but I was frustrated that another student who couldn’t afford this product wanted me to indulge her and all. Long story short, not only did she pay for the product, she introduced it to someone else and paid for her as well! Lesson: you never know who you’re networking with so be humble.
There was also a day I met the Ghanaian footballer Dede Ayew (he was someone I was swooning over for like ever!). I finally got to meet him and I couldn’t recognize him! Can you believe that?! I asked him who he was and before he ended his “I am..”, I had already figured him out! My point here is that, sometimes we may think everybody knows us but let’s just be humble and introduce ourselves when we meet new people.
Be helpful first
Sometimes when we meet influential people that can be of help to our needs, we are eager to bombard them with our needs immediately. This is a big mistake and I have made enough to cover us all! Always find a way to be helpful first. Find an opportunity to serve them or volunteer. I met one of my male mentors through helping and getting things done quickly for him. I didn’t even know who he was for a long time until I Googled him! The first time I made real good money in business, it was his wise counsel which helped me do it. Through my experience with him, I learned to be helpful and humble even.
Please find a way to be helpful to people you meet if possible. Do you believe in the law of karma? Your reward may not even come through them, it could be through someone else; certainly your reward will come.
I love that as children of God, we have direct access to Him anytime anywere. I remember being at one international conference and having a wonderful experience, meeting the president of the country as well as other amazing people. On the last day of the conference, I said a simple prayer and told God about how I was grateful for the opportunity to have met all these wonderful people but if there was someone else I had to meet that I hadn’t met yet, He should lead them to me.
Long story short, after that short prayer I met two people, had a hearty conversation over dinner with them and other participants and departed feeling so happy! We exchanged contacts of course and I reached out a few times over the next one year. Little did I know they were observing all that I was doing. So when an opportunity came up to study in Pakistan, guess which bald-headed, African girl was invited to go? (LOL) That turned out to be an amazing experience for me. I could never have planned this the way it happened. It was just God! Pray and stay tuned in to God as He directs you to meet the right people you need for your specific assignment. You feel me?
So there you have it, 4 tips for attracting a great network. I hope this has been of value; let me know in the comments. And if you do have some tips too, kindly share.
One more thing: Do you feel as if you struggle to connect with new people? Maybe you are shy? Or do you desire to keep relationships with new people but don’t know how to? And is it something you’d like to work on? If yes, then I invite you to join my Networking Masterclass (happening online) by clicking here or you can call/WhatsApp my assistant Seth on +233 246 25 2330. Until then, keep on being your fabulous self!
Photo by: Vera Obeng Photography