In this digital age, the ability to effectively connect with industry captains and key business leaders as well as nurture excellent work ethics will be the single most important differentiator between those that will succeed and those that will not.
Global statistics clearly indicate that this is a youthful generation. About seventy percent of the world populations are below 35 years. And two thirds of them are in Africa. The key challenges the youth are faced with include: unemployment (jobs), terrorism, infiltration of foreign culture and lack of mentorship
According to the African centre for economic transformation (ACET), about fifty percent of graduates would not find jobs after school. Conversely, as an HR practioner, I can say emphatically that there are still job vacancies that are difficult to fill owing to competency mismatch. Employers prefer to hire people they already know or people that are recommended to them by a friend.
This is defined as the skill of fostering and maintaining key relationships that create mutual value for the parties involved. There are four things to note about corporate networking.
- It is a level for personal growth.
- It benefits the learner
- It is the single most important skill in life, business and career development
- It can be learnt, nurtured and deployed.
Success is a decision and a habit. You must be specific and intentional about what you want in order to get it. In networking there are a few pointers that must be taken into consideration.
How to network
- Have a reason for wanting to connect – : what is the purpose for wanting to network, is it for grooming in terms of career guidance, academia, personal and spiritual growth, is it for mentoring, or in search of a job or internship
- Identify who you want to connect with and where to find them –this starts with the people you know or who your parents know. This could be from the neighbourhood, church, social media, corporate events among others.
- Introduce yourself as doing or having passion for something as he/she is doing – public speaking,: what do you both have in common this should be in line with what the person is doing examples could be public speaking, academic and scientific research, among others.
- Say something you read about them to them: This could be their own book, biography etc. Not only does this serves as a form of flattery to the person you are networking with But also it gives the person the assumption that you have a keen interest in what their field of work. It is therefore a necessity to do a research on them before meeting in person.
- Report on your progress: after the networking phase, there is a period within which you learn from your mentor/coach always write a review based on what you have learnt and how it has helped you.
- Offer to help to boost his/her professional success (write feature articles for him/her) this could be achieved by offering to be of his or her service by working with him or her.
- Ask for help: this could be in terms of recommendation, or by using him or her as a reference in your CV
- Getting in touch: It is essential to get in touch the same day via text messages reminding him/her of your meeting and affirming your commitment to learn. Remember to ask to call specific times and keep the appointment. Never call more than once or twice. If you fail to reach them the first time, send a text or a watsapp message. Always plan what to discuss each time you call
Where to network
- Church: the church could be a good place to network especially if you attend the same church with him or her. If that is not the case, get to know their place of worship and time of closure and hang around to meet them.
- Corporate & Social events: When starting small, go to events and programmes that you would be able to learn something educational and valuable. Examples of corporate events are Ted talks, Festival of Ideas, Ghana Economic Forum, HR Focus Conference, Golf tournaments etc. are most likely places to meet key industry leaders Take the initiative in volunteering in these events even though you are not being paid, it is an opportunity to meet and work with new people
- Social Media: Social media has made it easier to meet the people you would have had to book appointments to meet. According to Rev. Albert Ocran “You can meet just about anybody in the world simply by going through a chain of at most seven people”
Where to start from
- Friends of parents: It is essential to start with the people that your parents know. This is termed as personal networking. Indulge them concerning matters that are in relation to your personal growth. This could be in terms of career guidance, developing a skill, how to prepare for the job market and so on. Get to know them by name, their profession, volunteer to intern for free in their companies
- Friends of friends: To maintain your personal network always keep in touch with your friends and colleagues. You may never know when someone is going to turn from a passing acquaintance into a useful contact. Be up to date with where your old friends have been up to in relation to not only their social lives but also their work lives. Also your friends have friends. Reach out to them.
- Social media connections: ponder over this question; you have over 2500 friends on Facebook, how many of them have you personally reached out to?
- What do we do with business cards: a business card could serve as a means of getting in touch with a person via telephone, email or text message. Once a business card has been, always remember to not discard them as these might come in handy.
- Once we meet people how do we stay connected: this could be achieved by taking their contact number after interacting with them or requesting for a call card.
- Effective Networking involves a lot of work: when it comes to networking, it is seen as the necessary good in order to achieve results. If it is something that will benefit you (in terms of career development, academia,) are you willing to go the extra mile to achieve that. Change never comes easy.
- TOMA (Top of Mind Awareness): what is the reason why you want to network? This can go to the how, and where
- Influence: this deals with how you are able to get the attention and interest of the person to the extent that he or she willing to help and work with you.
Work etiquette is a social code that governs the expectations of behaviour in a workplace. These are rules about how people treat each other in formal situations. The common name for etiquette is MANNERS.
Key pointers of positive work etiquette
- Interpersonal relations: This talk of relating well with others in the workplace this is regardless of the differences you and your colleagues may have in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, disability, political views, religion, among others. Remember always be the bigger person and be willing to get along with others.
- Communication skills: How you relay your points across to your work colleagues is an important factor. also be a good listener
- Business growth (generating new ideas): what would you contribute to the development and growth to the business? What business ideas would you have in mind and how would they benefit the business.
- Values: this involves acting with integrity and honesty at all times
- Deliver results: this involves critical thinking and problem solving at work. If there is a task to be done, always find the means and ways by which the task would be accomplished. Be solution- oriented.
- Report to work on time: always be punctual when it comes to reporting to work on time. If there is a situation that you will be reporting to work late remember to ask for permission but do not let this be often.
- Focus on your deliverables:
- Use your energy and time wisely: it is essential to master the art of time management as this helps prioritizing on what task should performed first. Avoid stalling when there is work to be done.
- Seek help if need be: keep a ‘buddy’ (a friend that helps you easily settle into the culture).The buddy system always come in handy especially when one is facing difficulty adjusting to the working environment
- Be attentive to detail: Always be detail-oriented as one minor mistake will not only hold you liable but also the business as a whole which may result to a major loss or a law suit
- Show leadership: take initiative by taking active part and being committed to company projects. Take the initiative by taking in more responsibility and perform work that is outside of your general nature of work.
- Report on work done: whenever there is a task to be accomplished, there is always a deadline that is to be met. Always set targets or have a to-do list as to what work should be done first. Avoid stalling. as the saying goes procrastination is the thief of time
- Go the extra mile: burn the midnight oil by staying late sometimes to get work done or working over the weekend to get the work done.
- Give off your best: to deliver excellent results, always do your best especially when it comes to performing your work. Sometimes doing your best may not deliver good results but that does not mean that you must not give in your all.
- Avoid the office politics: office politics can be defined as an action or strategy people use to gain advantage in terms of status and power
Changing the world of work
- Change mindset
- ++to learn and get a salary
- ++only there for what they are getting
- ++contribute for themselves, business of one=being the owner
- Career responsibility shifts to the individual
- ++Linked to results and not how long you study
- ++good performers are hurried up the ladder
- You can only grow someone who wants to grow themselves
Employee development shifts to the individual
- Seeking a variety of assignments
- Tackling tough problems
- Asking for feedback
- Coaching – opportunities to coach others
- Energy to make the development possible
- Consider specific goals.. New skills….ways to meet these goals
What employers are looking for in employees
- Positive Attitude
- Team spirit
- Solution oriented
Good personal grooming
- Personal hygiene first step to good grooming
- Dental issues…brush,,,tongue
- Body odour
- Mouth odour
- Make up
- Professional dress code
Do not let your image sabotage your career
- What are you “saying” before you speak a word?
- To get ahead In any career pay attention to your workplace image as it is a powerful communicator.
- The non verbal messages your image sends can work on your behalf, or they can work against you.
- Look business like, yet stylish and not boring like a corporate filing cabinet