WHAT EVERY FRESH GRADUATE IN NIGERIA SHOULD KNOW ABOUT BUILDING NETWORKS
Congratulations on graduating and making it out of your respective schools! If you’re reading this, you’re most likely a fresh Nigerian graduate. And this is that time of your life where nothing quite prepares you for the fears and uncertainties you’re probably facing now. Now that you’ve gotten that degree you’ve always dreamed about, what now? You probably realize now that there are thousands if not tens of thousands other fresh graduates out there too!
Gotten the degree, served, and sent a few CVs out, so now what? This is the perfect time to start building meaningful networks. Start career networking now, it will help position you for career success. Networking is an effective way to kick – start your career as a fresh graduate in Nigeria. When people set out to obtain their degrees, they usually erroneously think that obtaining the degrees will be enough to serve them the kind of career they desire and aspire for. While earning a degree is a huge accomplishment, and will go a long way to speed up the process, still other factors play into getting one’s dream job and career. Fresh graduates in Nigeria often have no idea where to find the kind of job they really want. This is where networking comes to play.
Your connection and your progress.
As the old saying goes, it isn’t always about what you know, but who you know. For this reason, networking and cultivating productive relationships for employment and business purposes is a critical factor for career success. The world as we see it today is a product of networking. And for this, networking is an important and a really common practice for working professionals. Now, more than ever, it is really important to build a solid network in order to open yourself to a wide range of career opportunities, most especially now that you’re a fresh graduate.
To attain certain heights in your career, your connection strength counts. The speed at which you achieve career and business goals is also a function of good networking skills. Research shows that 70 to 80 percent of jobs are not advertised, meaning that if you want to know about the vast majority of jobs out there, you will need to find out such information from people in your own network. And that is why it is important that you start building those networks now, to better position you to hear about the unadvertised jobs in Nigeria. According to John Corcoran, in his February 4, 2015 post, “… Your network can’t be bought, borrowed, or downloaded like an app: it must be created by you through consistent action over time”. You will need to be proactive about buildings those relationships and staying in touch with them once the relationship has been established. Dedicate at least one hour every day for building and growing your network. Networking is not just important for career success, it is also critical for getting things accomplished and making positive change inside organizations.
Don’t limit your network.
If you are majoring in medicine or clinicals for example, don’t just network with medical professionals. Make other contacts among other careers such as tourism, finance, sports, marketing, and other industries regardless of whether or not it is relevant to your own field. Most fresh graduates erroneously tend to stick with people in their own industry, this is wrong and should be discontinued as you have no idea and will never know what doors might open up when you widen your reach. Obviously, it is important to form strong links with the major influencers in your field. Still, you shouldn’t overlook the importance of branching out. Creating a diverse network is important, it will open you up to diverse people, diverse opportunities, diverse industries and diverse places, even when the connections may seem remote to your present career.
Always get prepared.
Networking could happen anywhere, it doesn’t always have to be at professional conferences or business seminars. “You always have to be prepared for potential opportunities when they come”, says Yissel Cirion Career Services Acting Associate Director. Carry your CV with you at all times, you never know. Trust me. You don’t want a lifetime opportunity to pass you by because you failed to prepare. As Joel Delgado puts it in his Dec 16,2014 post, “Because of this, start thinking about crafting your own elevator pitch_ the thirty seconds speech that sums up who you are, what you do, and what type of job you’re hoping to land, you never know when you might need to make a case for yourself”
Social media presence. According to the society for Human Resource Management; “77 percent of employers now use social networking to recruit candidates”. With this in mind, you have to be mindful of the kind of messages you post on social media platforms such as; Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Be mindful of the kind of conversations you participate in on social media. If you think your potential employers Dont double – check on your background through assessing your social media presence, think again. Potential employers and recruiters will run a thorough background check on their potential employees. Your social media presence and behaviour will help give recruiters insight about your behavioural patterns, it will expose how you think, your thought processes, your inclinations and tendencies, it will help recruiters pin – point your in – person behaviour. Work on your social media profiles and ensure it says what you want it to say about you, to portray you in a positive light. Don’t react to every post on your Facebook account, watch out for the kind of Facebook friends you request and accept. Be modest. Spend QUALITY time on your social media platforms. Stay relevant. And also important; always remember to regularly update your LinkedIn account, (if any) to make it up-to-date.
Be conscious of your image/ reputation.
As a fresh graduate, you need to adopt the right frame of mind set at all times in your relationship with others. You’ve got to understand that it doesn’t really matter how much experience you have, or how old you are. What matters is your ability and readiness to provide value to the people you come in contact with. You need to start by having and building confidence in yourself that you have the potential of adding value to the persons you meet. To achieve this, build for yourself an acceptable image. Matt Stewart, the CEO of College Works Painting, uses a metaphor of the wake behind a boat, to illustrate the impact your behaviour and actions around others can have on your larger reputation. “You have to consider your wake, when a boat goes by, it leaves some ripples. You have to manage the ripples left behind and their image”. The kind of reputation you have today can have irrevocable consequences on your tomorrow. Everything you do, including the way you talk, the way you act, the way you react to situations, especially uncomfortable situations, do you easily get irritated? Are you emotionally stable? Emotionally intelligent? How well can you handle challenging situations? Do you fold up easily under pressure? To be successful you need to network, and to network you need to have a good image and reputation. It’s also important to pay attention to your online and social media image and reputation. Be conscious of the kind of activities you involve yourself in on social media, because these things go a long way to show the things that interest and matter to you as a person. According to a post by Deborah Peterson on May 21, 2014, “Do what you say you will, do not over promise and under deliver, but instead maintain credibility by doing the follow – up work to always meet your commitments” the authors write. “In financial parlance, it is easier to exceed expectations if those expectations are not completely over the top or in your face”. By keeping your promises your reputation spreads throughout your network.
Networking is an investment.
Nowadays progress in life and career isn’t accelerated by what you know, but who you know. This is why networking and cultivating meaningful and productive relationships for business or employment purposes has become an important practice for working professionals in today’s world. Its also very important to be intentional about building your networks now that you’re a fresh graduate, networking has the potential to open you up to a wide range of career opportunities. And the good news is that networking is relatively easy, all you need to do is adopt the right mindset, be intentional and take consistent actions towards building relationships that matter. Put yourself out there and intentionally invest time in other people_ from professionals in your field, to professionals in other fields. You’ve got to understand that networking is an investment in yourself and your future, so take it seriously. Most people understand that to be successful, you need to network, but the big problem is actually going out there to meet people. For most people, this can be daunting, and so for such persons, they need to simply identify the people they want to meet and also; identify where to meet such persons. Note that, whenever you are initiating a contact with someone who is more experienced, more exposed and knowledgeable than you are, you need to be respectful and act professional, regardless of their age.
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Serial Entrepreneur - International Business Planning Consultant - Speaker - Trainer - Author - Blogger - Network Marketing professional.
- 2018 SME Business Trainer and Coaching Advisor at GIZ for SME Loop.
- 2018 YALI RLC Online Cohort 9
- 2017 Fellow, Inspire Africa Train-the-Trainer Entrepreneurship programme sponsored by US Consulate Lagos and the Dickey Center, U.S.A.
- 2016 Fellow, Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme
- 2015 Top 50 Innovative Entrepreneurs, BET5 by Diamond Bank and EDC, PAU.
He is an alumnus of Enterprise Development Centre (EDC) of the Lagos Business School (LBS), Pan-Atlantic University (PAU). Through his training, mentoring, speaking and coaching programmes, he has empowered many young people over the years to start and grow their own business, build wealth, create multiple streams of income and achieve financial independence.
- He is a Certified Trainer in Design Thinking by the U.S Consulate, Lagos and the inspire Africa Entrepreneurship Institute.
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