Your Network is your Net worth. This statement may sound cliche but its very true. Did you know that the people you meet can change your life either positively or negatively? Today, i want to focus on the positive aspect. After taking an online course on YALI ( Young African Leaders Initiative) website, i feel the need to share the knowledge that i have gained. I hope this will empower you as much as it did to me.
Have you ever wondered why your former classmate or colleague has been invited for numerous job interviews, getting a promotion, meeting and even surpassing a sales target and better yet getting a lucrative job offer elsewhere while you seem stuck on the same place you were more than five years ago? Their secret is out,they NETWORK!
According to Sadhana Hall ,The Deputy Director, Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences at Dartmouth College, Networking is the process of intentionally seeking out people who inspire, motivate, influence and give you honest feedback. Your personal network is your resource- its just as tangible and necessary as your technical skills. Your main aim of networking should be to get ahead. To do this you need networking skills.
- Be open to meeting new people, listening to new ideas, and engaging with people outside of your specific business or industry.l
- Be a good listener for common goals and and interests and establish useful relationships.
- Be punctual and respect how much time your contacts are able to give you.
- Be proactive and conduct research on the individual, employer or industry with whom you would like to connect.
Ways to develop your network
- Reach out to friends, family members and alumni. Your friends and family are a rich pool of people with connections. Make use of them.
- Seek to connect with people informally at conferences and meetings or at formal networking events. Last week i made contact with someone in a matatu on my way to Kakamega from Kisumu and he came in handy when i was applying for an interim driving license. The whole process was so easy because he gave me all the information i needed .
- Make connections through social media such as LinkedIn. LinkedIn can connect you to others with similar interests, it can help you establish wider networks and is a rich source of information for professional development. I once got a job offer through LinkedIn.
- Ask for contact information and a business card. This is important
- Reciprocate- be a resource for those in your network.
Now you have the networking skills and you know how to develop your network. To be able to achieve your objectives you need to maintain your network. A lot of people do not know how to maintain their network. Maintaining your network is the most important in order to build a connection or even lasting relationships.
How to maintain network
- Reach out to your contacts when something reminds you of them.
- Send along occasional updates or interesting relevant information about yourself.
- Reach out to your contacts in advance of co-ordinated job searches.
- Remember what you talked about with your contacts when you meet them. This will show that you are genuine. You can write brief noted about what you talked about in their business cards or set reminders.
- Follow up with a new contact within 24 to 48 hours.
N/B: please sign in to the YALI NETWORK and take the free online courses for which you earn a certificate. Knowledge is power! Check out yali.state.gov/courses.
Networking can be a powerful tool when used well. Have a networking week ahead!