Ever heard the phrase “you’re only six degrees of separation away from anyone in the world?” So you should know a friend who in five steps can connect you with anyone in the world. When we put it that way, no one seems so out of reach yes? And therein lies the power of networking. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my career in recent times, it’s the power of networking – the ability to interact with others and develop professional or social connections.

But the real essence of networking – is the ability to build these relationships before you need them.   One must learn how to approach people, talk to them, maintain small talk conversation (even when it seems unnecessary), remember their pet’s name and generally have a laugh. It’s a skill that’s so important, as when push comes to shove what makes one outstanding is really how you get along with others. Many people want to work with people they truly like and can crack a joke with in the midst of work pressure. Customers would rather purchase items from a business owner who’s personable. Employers and bosses tend to promote people with a large network which can benefit the organisation.  So wherever you fall,  it’s necessary.

And sometimes, it’s such a pain. Why do you have to do all of this? I have no mind-blowing answer for that, so we better move along to how it can be done.

Honestly, there isn’t particularly any top secret, but the one thing to say is that networking has to be intentional. You need to feel the fear but do it anyway. It needs to be at the forefront of your mind at all time.

Perhaps this is why I sometimes find strict “networking events” tasking. There’s already so much pre-built pressure. You’re expected  to “network” but as is everyone else there. You may want to network with people “up the ladder“, but those people who you’d ordinarily single out would rather network with others higher up. What a pain.

And so it’s back to the point of realising networking ought to be a constant K in your daily routine.

Consider these “unusual” places to network

Your Commute (Trains, Buses or Airplanes)

If there’s one thing you probably do everyday it’s a daily commute or some time spent in transit – on the bus, trains or well, air planes. If you drive more often or take a private jet perhaps this may not apply – but other than that, your commute is a good place to strike up conversation and network. I know it can be hard, because everyone seems to be either scrolling through social media, reading a book or have their ears plugged. And well, if it’s the underground at rush hour with sticky bodies pressed against you, making conversation is the last thing you want to do. But don’t be deterred – the commute usually offers an opportunity to meet with people from different background. So strike a conversation: ask where they’re headed, what book they’re reading, their thoughts on recent events – anything. Ofcourse, let your instincts guide you and if it doesn’t seem to be working, cut it off to try another day.

It can also be okay to initiate a conversation based on what you overhear  – it’s not eavesdropping if it’s public anyway and you hear something (not private or personal business) that you may be able to relate to. My ears generally tend to perk up when I hear anything lawyer related, and one time my seat mate who was apparently top executive at a foremost UK bank kept referring to some legal corporate governance that I had recently become familiar with –  and I picked up conversation on that. Got home and told my husband who I had met – and he turned out to be a valuable resource for a project my husband was working on then. I put them in touch and voila!

Public Restrooms

I think public restrooms/ bathrooms are underrated as a networking opportunity. Well, not those one cubicle kind of bathrooms with pungent smell that you can’t wait to get out of. But larger, nicer, cleaner bathrooms at work, restaurants, or events – where you take your time to powder your nose, take a ton of selfies and sometimes just appreciate the vibe. As ladies very often spend a good amount of time in here, it’s so easy to strike up a conversation. But you have to know what to talk about.

It’s the bathroom – so you probably shouldn’t say “hello, nice to meet you!”.

But maybe:

  • oh nice lipstick”.
  • absolutely love this dress on you!” – a compliment is always a good idea.

From then on it’s an easy flow

  • not seen you around here – just joined the team? let’s catch up later – I’ll send an email
  • any weekend plans? … oh I’m totally doing that as well this weekend
  • surprising how many people actually made it to this event / conference!” – “I hope we see before the event is over again, but we may not so why don’t I just add you up on Linkedin / Instagram and we chat later?

And just like that – you could go from a coincidental bathroom buddy to BFFs. Ofcourse you actually need to follow up and keep in touch for that to happen.

Apply the same to elevators and queues too. (you’ve definitely seen in the movies and romance novels how one meets a significant person in an elevator!)

Existing Relationships

You’re probably thinking “if it’s an existing relationship, then the person is in my network. why and how can I still network here”. But that you know someone and they know of you, doesn’t exactly mean the person is of value to you. The key to networking within existing relationships is to realise that situations change. Are you keeping track of your existing network and their growth? Asides that, are you actually fostering and maintaining your relationships. Are you sending the occasional email, meeting up once in a while? Food for thought.

Leisure / Social Activities

I know,  I know. Some people just want to get their work out in the gym, burn the calories and head out without speaking to a human. And it’s fine, we’d ignore those and respect their wishes.

Notwithstanding, leisure and social activities remain a great place to network, because for starters – you already share an interest or similarity. It’s easier said than done though. The first time I attended a baby play class, I had it on my mind to network and mingle. But it just seemed tough particularly as all the other mommas seemed at ease, knew each other, and I was the newbie. But next time, I’m not leaving without adding one person to my network. So whether you have swimming classes, wine tasting, football, whatever  you do for leisure (other than nextflixing and being on your couch) is a great place opportunity to network.

Social Media

It all goes down in the DM!

We can’t really talk about all of the above offline networking without talking about online networking. We spend so much time on social media (as much as we hate to admit) that it better add value to our network. At my surprise baby shower, it almost got a tad awkward when many of my friends there, I had met on social media.

Social media networks don’t have to be fickle – if you’re certain of what you want and you have the right approach, the connection is bound to click. So don’t waste time just scrolling through – if you’d like to connect with someone, then go for it.

For those who only scrolled to the end of this piece, the key to networking is to simply go abut your daily life, wear a smile and be intentional about it. Whether it’s finding a common ground to initiate a conversation or scheduling weekly time slots to go through LinkedIn and meet new people, do it!

Do you consider yourself a good networker? what’s your fave place + tips? Not a fan of it – what are your challenges – let’s discuss!

Love,
Kachee… Xx

Read too: How to Send a Really Good Email (and get a positive response!) and 10 Women on the Best Career Advice They Ever Received. 


21 COMMENTS

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21 Comments

  1. Annie Ejiofor

    May 28, 2018 at 14:51

    I love every bit of this post. And it’s timely!! Plus, it was beautifully written. Thank you, momma. 😊❤

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      May 28, 2018 at 16:28

      Yay glad you did! You’re welcome.

      Reply
  2. Dunmola

    May 28, 2018 at 17:02

    Lovely writeup and timely. Great tips for anyone who wants to boost their network.

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      May 29, 2018 at 08:59

      Thanks Dunmola!

      Reply
  3. Tshiko Mwangi

    May 29, 2018 at 07:53

    Who would think Public Restrooms would make it to this list!I’m a work in progress when it comes to networking. I’m great at LinkedIn(@Ritah Mwangi) simply because the connections are mainly focused on the professional gain. However, when it comes to other social media such as Instagram and Facebook, the networking dynamic here is a little complex for me. Maybe because sliding into DMs has a negative connotation attached to it and also because the line between looking like a groupie and expressing genuine interest can be blurred!All in all, great tips!

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      May 29, 2018 at 09:00

      I agree sliding into the DM can be tricky, but I guess it depends on whose DM and how you go abut it. We’re in a digital age, so it’s not unexpected.

      Reply
  4. Olufisayo Adeleke

    May 29, 2018 at 12:28

    This is such a great piece Kachi…thank you! I think I am still growing in my networking ministry…I personally make it a point of duty to strike a conversation (i.e put my phone away😭) with someone new anyplace I go…church,gym,theatre..anywhere really…some conversations grow into actual friendships and some just occasional hello and some wither away…but if you never try…you ll never even have the choice of what to do with these connections…the two places I haven’t been networking well so far are Linkedln and Networking events…Linkedln because I have to be prim and proper (my default setting is playful me) and networking events because I’m just there for the food (just kidding 😂), but the food at these events are amazing…networking events because the pressure to be actual is a lot…so I just force myself to meet at least two people..eat plenty food and go home.I’m trying to do better now as I realised, the importance of these two places cannot be overemphasized…In the spirit of networking..I wish to meet my husband in the airport…preferably we sit beside each other…that will be soooooo cool…I’ve finished my story 😂Amazing post once again!

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      May 29, 2018 at 21:08

      I feel you on the food at networking events! Often so tempting.Hahahaha. we’d be waiting for the story of th airport meetup.Thank you Fisayo!

      Reply
  5. RuthsTravel:Because I Believe

    May 29, 2018 at 19:56

    “Simply go about your life, wear a smile, and be intentional about it”I absolutely love this post. Networking is KEY in so many ways. Being the hermit that I could be, it’s a tad bit challenging having conversations and all-but what needs to be done, needs to be done and at some point, if you’re an introvert or shy of new meets, you have to find a way to push yourself out of that corner. I can relate to that baby play class scenario. I don’t like the idea of networking events for the reason you stated and the fact that I could get overly anxious-still working on that. I can’t even say how one of my best networking wins happened through the DMs.I don’t know if I’m a good networker but for me, being myself helps a lot! I may refrain from people but genuine admiration for who people are and what they might be doing, gives me courage enough to approach them-most times (offline/online). I watched a program on the news some days back and there was this activist, writer, etc, who BLEW MY MIND on a lot of political issues in Nigeria.P.S. He’s on TV right now as I write 😂I left a comment on his twitter TL simply because I was too impressed and guess what? This Professor reached out in the DMs!!! This social media my just be my networking forte 😂 If I don’t have a genuine appreciation for what you do, if I’m not knocked over by your passion or something I find endearing, it’ll be way too hard to start up a conversation. I can and should do better. Phew!I’m so trying out the restroom approach. It’ll certainly feel like those scenes in the movies where a spy already knows everything about you but they throw in those, “Nice lipstick”, “The weather’s great today” lines to get into your cycle.My tip is basically stressing a point. If you have a challenge reaching out, at least, appear and be approachable. Wear a smile. Respond to people’s compliments. Be present where you are and leave out the death stare.becauseibelieveblog.com

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      May 29, 2018 at 21:09

      I love your points about being yourself and being present. That’s very useful.Ohhh, I’m curious about who this person is that reached out to you – Hahaha. But yes, that’s indeed the power of reaching out – you just never know what’s on the other side.

      Reply
      • RuthsTravel:Because I Believe

        May 30, 2018 at 07:55

        Lol! Chidi Odinkalu

        Reply
  6. Ifunanya Nwabueze

    May 29, 2018 at 21:49

    Great post as always! i’m an ardent reader of your blog but sadly i never comment 🙁 . Well, in the spirit of coming out of our comfort zones…i finally decided to.P.S. since i began reading your blog, there has been no post i haven’t picked a thing or two. Always insightful!

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      May 29, 2018 at 21:59

      Hahahaha – yes to coming out! Thank you so much for reading – so glad it’s helpful!

      Reply
  7. Debby Adebayo

    May 30, 2018 at 21:27

    I’ve never been particularly good at networking. I believe it’s because I don’t like forced discussions. Hoping to get more involved and just ease into it.Www.debbyhub.com

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      June 1, 2018 at 19:51

      It doesn’t have to be forced and good networking shouldn’t be. But it’s a skill to be learnt. Try to be yourself, find common ground to talk about, ask questions, offer help etc. There’s often a starting point.

      Reply
  8. Adenuga Oladunni Eniola

    June 3, 2018 at 13:45

    I’m absolutely terrible when it comes to networking. I just hate it when I go to an event and hear the words “It’s time to network. Meet new people around. Bla bla bla.” I just stay glued to my seat and sip water or juice or whatever. I am not so comfortable around new people, and I would rather just be by myself. The only time I tried it, (I think angels tickled my brain or something), it was actually fun, but the nerves I felt before walking up to someone? 😰 Growing older now, I am realising that I can’t always run away from networking, because its actually very useful for business, but it still doesn’t make it any easier. May God help me.Lovely post, as ever, Kachee!

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      June 14, 2018 at 23:06

      Don’t run away from it. Just practise more. And don’t see it as a room full of people that you have to “network” with. Think of it as just one or two people. Ignore the nerves before walking up or entering a circle of people. Think of a compliment or something to say before hand. You got this!

      Reply
  9. Empire Wisdom

    June 12, 2018 at 06:57

    nice post I learnt few things to boost my networking aura

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      June 14, 2018 at 23:06

      Glad you did!

      Reply
  10. Ebunoluwa Ogundipe

    June 14, 2018 at 22:14

    Thank you for sharing your networking nuggets Kachee!The part about wanting to network with people “up the ladder”, but those people who you’d ordinarily single out would rather network with others higher up really resonated with me. This was my fear before I attended a Cybersecurity conference today. Thankfully I came across your blog post just in time and applied your advice about being yourself, intentional and present. At the end of the event, I left happy about the new people added to my network.

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      June 14, 2018 at 23:07

      Awesome. Glad to hear and you’re welcome!

      Reply

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