Working Our Network

In 2016, I had found myself in somewhat of a fix. I had to be in South Africa on a business trip I could not forfeit, but it meant I would fall behind on a federal project’s completion deadline in Nigeria. All I needed was some sort of official acknowledgment from the Nigerian parastatal in question, granting me a two-week extension. I merely complained in passing to a friend while driving. He got in touch with his former classmate who worked in the same ministry, and voila! It turned out I was only two people away from the minister himself. That is networking.

In going the normal route, I would only have gotten as high as the department in charge of project monitoring and may have even had to grease a few palms. This concept called networking is an enormous phenomenon. It continues to evolve and take on various forms and frameworks, and frankly, I am beginning to wonder why it has not yet received academic recognition. In my experience, it is simply the leverage you garner – through the simple act of relating and connecting, to mount the shoulders of unknown benefactors and achieve the unimaginable.

Why is it necessary to discuss networking? It is like driving on a straight road that invisibly curves slightly to form a circle; you are just going around, ultimately taking a longer route nowhere. Networks are like turns on that road that branch you out, giving you endless options and healthy destinations. It is therefore important to begin steps in strategically creating relationships within our immediate environment for the singular purpose of building leverage. If you are reading this, you probably networked your way here. As you act on this article you will expose yourself to an even wider village.

The other day, a friend pointed out that templates now exist for presenting yourself right, when initiating an important LinkedIn connection request. The internet has now helped to facilitate networking, and many social media applications now connect you directly with people you would never have met in light years. But as I said, the word is suddenly being thrown around so often that it may now require proper empirical mastery from academic learning. The tenets of it have altogether evaded us and like many other issues facing the African youth, the approaches and platforms required to achieve effective networks have become direly needed.

I will address other solutions that plague unemployment in subsequent articles, but if you are not plugged into the relevant networks, those solutions might be useless. You only go as far as your network’s farthest reach.

Considering all the issues plaguing unemployment, the aim of this article is to present networking as one realistic solution. I-Train Africa from time to time, organizes conferences that aim to create an exponential web of possibilities. That village I mentioned already exists whether there is a conference or not. A community of like-minded individuals – having discovered the value of networking, have begun to grow around our content. This time, however, there will be thirty speakers from across the globe, all opening their valves and bouncing ideas and opportunities around the village. This will be ‘networking on steroids.’ Get yourself attached and get fired up for the mingling. Work your network! 

Written By Leslie Amangala

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