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Lola Sanni on The Importance of Networking

A lot of us like to believe that we are not so introverted until we find ourselves in gatherings of mostly unfamiliar people and the onus is on us to approach these people and strike off conversations without necessarily forcing conversations.

Recently, I have been more intentional about putting myself out there and networking better. Many thanks to Black Professionals ScotlandDataKirk for providing those invaluable platforms and opportunities for people like me, and many hugs to Lọ́lá Béjidé 😘 for the push. Guys, she's my accountability partner. I'm sure she would find this quite funny when she sees it 😂.

Anyways, I'd like to share a few tips that can help people network better and to get the most from networking.

**Plan to enjoy it. Hold your head up and smile. This would also make it easier for you to be approached.

** Give yourself a target beforehand. For instance, I'll make sure to meet 3 people in the next 30mins and get their contacts. You've got to be that intentional.

**Determine whether it's a good time to approach individuals or groups. If people are very close to each other and deep in conversations, it's probably a private or serious conversation and they, most likely, wouldn't want to be disturbed.

**Start with “May I join you?”. Don't start off by asking direct questions. Use statements instead that focus on general topics. For Instance, “That was a nice speech by (the name of a speaker). Wasn't it?”

**Understand that you will need to introduce yourself but keep it simple. For instance, “I'm XYZ, I do XYZ, I'm here because I have an interest in XYZ”. No need for epistles or lectures.

**Be interested and present in the conversation. That way, you can also hold their attention. Don't be talking to them and looking over their shoulder at someone else or looking around the room like someone who is confused. Discuss your interest in that event, perhaps you may discover similar interests.

**Don't get stuck speaking to one person, no matter how interesting the conversation is. Move on skilfully. Try saying, “It's been great talking to you. Here are my details. I'm going to mingle”. Then, move on. This is because no matter how great the connection was; it doesn't end with just that meeting; you've got to “maintain” the relationship.

** FOLLOW UP. Follow up immediately after the event or the next day (Not 3 months later. Not a year later. Not when you think you may need their help😁). Follow up on LinkedIn or whatever platform and be intentional about staying in touch.

Oh my! What a long write-up 😀.

Guys, these tips are not cast in stone. Please feel free to tweak them as it suits you.
I hope that at least one person finds this useful. Please share your thoughts below.

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