At the Street University (www.thestreetuniversity.com), a platform where leaders and policymakers meet on a Zoom webinar twice a week to exchange ideas on day-to-day issues that affect them, we have spent the past four weeks looking at networking, especially why a lot of networking events rarely produce desired results.
Personal network analyst Lorraine Kirigia said one must be deliberate about the network and the need to classify the networks well else you will have misplaced expectations and expect the wrong things from the wrong people.
She stressed that different ages are driven by different assets: The agrarian age by land, the industrial age by the machine and the information age by data and technology.
Today, it is our networks and relationships as individuals, organisations or even nations and has to do with brand love and trust, Ms Kirigia emphasised.
Marketing Africa boss William Kalombo talked of the need to build relationships first, a point buttressed by communication expert Dr Joan Mutua, who separated socialising from networking.
Image and perception management guru Oladele Ogunlana recalled when he was in the midst of some high powered people. Someone in wanting to seize the moment came and introduced himself and gave out his card expecting them to reciprocate.
They did not and instead profiled him more as a hustler attempting to network without socialising.
Where then does this leave famed concepts like the elevator pitch?
Guinness Nigeria Plc managing director Baker Magunda said many people make the mistake of networking only with those they perceive to be high and mighty, not realising that in their hour of need their salvation could come from someone that may appear insignificant.
What then are the golden rules of networking? First, relationships are the easiest way to build sure networks. Many of us receive business cards ever so often from different people. What you do with those cards determines if that person will be elevated into your network.
In exchanging cards, you have made a contact, but a contact is useless as long as it stays just that. What you do with the card will determine if that person is moved to the next level.
Ensure that within 48 hours at the very maximum, you email the card-giver with nothing elaborate but a simple acknowledgement of your meeting and looking forward to opportunities you can pursue together in future.
It means you have opened a communications line with the person. Emails are the best medium for this because they are not as intrusive as a phone call.
If your subsequent first interaction is a phone call, you may have moved too quickly. First, with a lot of people the number on the card may not be their direct line. Second, unless you have a very serious proposition, the receiver may feel a bit rushed.
That you have someone’s card neither means you have their trust nor that you are their friend. This is very important to note in this phase. Your next task is to advance this to acquaintance. How do you go about this? To be continued...
Wale Akinyemi is the chief transformation officer, PowerTalks