You might have heard the popular saying, “you shouldn’t wait around to get what you want, instead go out and get it”, or something along these lines. Whether or not the quote sounds familiar, stepping out of your comfort zone to build on your dreams or attain goals is a necessary step everyone would take at some point. However, without the right networking skills, reaching one’s goals might be arduous.
Networking is a process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts. There are different places where contacts can be made such as at the office with your co-workers, or at events or social settings where new acquaintances can be made. These avenues make it easy for you to meet people, have conversations while building connections with them.
Many people assume that networking is only useful during a job search but the purpose of networking goes far beyond finding your next job opportunity. The purpose of networking is to make new friendships, industry acquaintances, and even business partners. Through these new relationships, you can fast track progress on your career path or even build bonds that may last a lifetime. When you look at it that way, it is clear why networking is such a powerful tool especially in a place like Lagos, Nigeria that is fast-paced, almost everyone is obligated to go out and get things done and “who you know” plus “who knows you” could be that spice needed in the stew of your success.
Networking is a skill that requires effort and can be difficult when you are a beginner or when you are just learning how to navigate life. This is especially true because people have different personalities which could affect meeting new people or making connections and building friendships and relationships that may, in turn, benefit them. However, anyone can learn how to network.
For extroverts, Networking comes much easier simply because it’s in their nature to seek out social interactions and being talkable, sociable and friendly are traits that make networking a breeze. Unlike extroverts, who gain energy by being around people, networking can be uncomfortable for most introverts. An introvert is a person with qualities of a personality type known as introversion, this simply means that they feel more comfortable focusing on their inner thoughts and ideas and spending time by themselves rather than what is happening externally. They enjoy spending time with just one or two people, rather than large groups or crowds. For an introverted person, being around too many people can become overwhelming overtime. This isn’t because they are socially inept or prefer animals to humans (as the internet would like us to believe), it is because they require alone time to recharge their social batteries. It is important to remember that introversion, just as extraversion, is simply a preference and a tool which can be used to maximum benefit by understanding, accepting, and creating a strategy. So yes, introverts can network with great success!
Here are a few tips for a beginner to network successfully
- Create a list of everyone who could be in your professional network. You could make a tree out of it to make it a fun exercise. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, here’s your sign to create one.
- Reach out. From a simple email to check in, to initiating lunch or drinks to catch up is a great way to get started.
- When in a conversation, follow the 60/40 rule. Listen 60% of the time and speak only 40% of the time.
- Be willing to help first and add value to relationships. Focus on what you can give, not what you can get
- Connect with those who share the same passion. It’s a good place to start simply because it’s easier to have nice conversations when you like the same things.
- Go to networking events. They are called Networking events for a reason.