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How to Network Like a Pro (in Nigeria)


How to Network Like a Pro (in Nigeria)

(Rough excerpts from my forthcoming eponymous book)

Thought to share few tips on how to get almost anybody talking to you.

Domesticated because of cultural nuances as some of the tips may not work in other countries.

Will also be sharing some personal examples.

Let’s go

I. Package yourself well

Whether physical or virtual, most people make decision about giving you attention after scanning who you are. Could be as simple as looking at how you dress (in physical meeting) or how you couch your message (in virtual) or as involving as spending time to check your bio & posts or even Googling/LinkedIn-ing you (in virtual) before deciding whether to respond to you. So you may want to be deliberate in some of these things.

II. Opening matters

Whether physical or virtual, opening matters. You can’t go to a Nigerian bank ED’s DM and say “Hi Bola”. Proper intro in first message is always helpful. If physical (say you meet at a conference or in a flight), “Good evening sir, my name is Wale Alabi, an accountant, happy to meet you sir..” could be a good ice breaker. If it’s a popular face, you can add “I have been following you in the news for long; happy to meet you sir”

III. Load the intro

Whether verbal (physical) or written (email, sms, DMs etc), load your intro message as much as possible. Say what you know about them, compliment them, talk about yourself too.

Case 1: I used a LinkedIn message to network with a former CEO of NLNG.

This satisfies all points above – proper intro of myself, compliment to him, demonstrated knowledge of him, made my request straight away, the request is a cause I knew would interest him. My first contact was a message sent early this year. Now, he’s a good senior friend and invites me to his events😊

IV. Flaunt your network

This is psychology. People feel comfortable with you when they know other people in their social and economic class are comfortable enough to associate with you despite being below their class.

So if I want to get a new contact into my network, I find a way to mention a mutual friend in the opening conversation or someone in their class who I know they respect.

V. Get introduced

Sometimes, get someone from your existing network to be the go-between.

Case 2: Used this for a founder of one of Nigeria’s top 7 banks. It wasn’t an intro, but it was to lubricate the network. Wanted to be sure he hadn’t forgotten me. Brought a topic I knew he’d find interesting. This combines points V & VI.

VI. Lubricate the network

When you bring a new VIP into your network, don’t forget them after first contact. Stay in touch. Doesn’t mean you should be disturbing with weekly call or “forwarded as received” whatsapp messages. But at least once in 3 months, get in touch.

I have a dinner with a Partner in a top global consulting to discuss some personal matters tonight. Have known him for 10 years. Kept in touch.

Accountant | Economist | Public & Fiscal Policy Analyst | Author

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