Dear 20-something-year-old, if your goal is to have an impressively fast-paced career, then this is the kind of blog post you should read till the end. The gospel of networking is not preached enough. Talent isn’t enough to succeed. You how Nigerians like to use “connection” to find a shortcut for almost everything? That is exactly what networking, if done properly, can help you achieve – a shortcut to career development.
It’s not just about collecting business cards or introducing yourself to someone, networking is about building meaningful relationships that can open doors to new opportunities. In Nigeria’s highly competitive job market, learning how to network can be life-changing. If Asake had not Olamide, for example, he most likely would still be struggling with his music career.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the importance of networking, how to network with a tested elevator pitch template, and everything you need to know to help you network like a pro in your 20s.
Why Networking Matters
- Opportunity Access: There’s a new trend of hiring managers asking employees in their companies to recommend people for vacant roles that are not publicly advertised. Networking exposes you to such job openings, internships, and business collaboration.
- Knowledge Exchange: Through networking, you can learn from experienced professionals in your field, gaining valuable insights and guidance for your career.
- Skill Enhancement: Interacting with a professional from different fields helps you develop essential soft skills, such as communication, negotiation, and interpersonal skills. You can read about why these soft skills are so important here.
- Support System: Building a network of trusted professionals provides emotional and professional support, especially during challenging career moments.
- Personal Branding: A dependable network can help you establish and build your personal brand, making you more attractive to potential employers or partners.
The Game-Changing Elevator Pitch Template
An elevator pitch is an impressive introduction that portrays who you are and what you can offer typically between 30 seconds to 1 minute. Here’s a template to help you create your elevator pitch:
“Hello, I’m Ali Momo, a recent graduate with a degree in marketing. I specialize in digital marketing strategies and have recently managed a successful social media campaign that increased engagement by 30%. I’m excited to connect with fellow professionals in the field. Do you have any upcoming marketing events you recommend?”
Step-by-Step Guide to Networking Like a Pro
- Set Clear Goals: Be clear about why you are networking, whether it’s finding a job, gaining knowledge, or expanding your professional circle.
- Prepare Your Elevator Pitch: Craft an impressive pitch that clearly communicates your skills.
- Choose the Right Events: Attend networking events, conferences, and seminars related to your field or interests. In Nigeria for example, we have events like the Nigeria International Petroleum Summit (NIPS) for the energy sector or the Nigerian Economic Summit for people interested in economic insights.
- Be Approachable: Smile, maintain eye contact, and use open body language to appear confident and friendly.
- Initiate Conversations: Don’t wait for others to approach you. Introduce yourself, ask questions, and show genuine interest in people.
- Exchange Contact Information: Collect business cards or exchange contact details to follow up later. Don’t forget to send a thank-you email or a LinkedIn message after the event.
- Nurture Your Network: Keep in touch with your contacts, share valuable information, and offer assistance when possible.
- Leverage Social Media: Connect with professionals on LinkedIn and join relevant groups to expand your online network.
Networking is a continuous journey, and the connections you make today can shape your future. We wish you good luck in your networking efforts!