It’s Who You Know

By Liz Anoushka

As unfair as it may seem, getting ahead in life is pretty much determined by who you know. This is where networking strategically and correctly come in. You need to always position yourself in such a way that you interact with the right people in your community, family, school, workplace, hangouts, and at events.

Why Bother?

It’s important to have talent, be a people-person, and work hard. However, we don’t succeed in isolation, we need people to give us that much needed push in the right direction, people to alert us to new opportunities related to our goals and those closest to those opportunities to help us get our foot through the door. Sometimes those we know might not always be directly linked to the opportunities we seek but will surely know someone who does.

Checking My Circles

A little test could help you identify whether you are in the right circles (those that add value to you and are helping you reach your dreams) or whether or not your friends and connections think you add value to them. Here are 5 points to gauge yourself and your circles. As you reflect on each, try to be as honest with yourself as possible.

  • Serious people rarely seek your advice or opinion on things that matter to them, current affairs, or their environment. OR You tend to be stuck often not sure who on your contact list to approach for similar advice.
  • Smart people don’t consider you as the go-to person for intelligent conversation but switch to basic chit-chat when you come around or end the conversation altogether. OR You can’t name (with ease) at least 3 people in your circles that you can engage for intelligent conversation.
  • People don’t ask for your recommendation about important choices or options. OR When you tend to ask for recommendations among your circles, they tend to respond with “I don’t know” or end up suggesting options that aren’t related to what you asked nor are that useful.
  • Your current circles reflect where you’ve been and where you are now but seem far from where you want to be or where you have always wanted to be.
  • Your circles have similar challenges to yours. These could be anything from having similar average or no goals, lack ambition and direction, dream a lot and do less, their own networks are weak or less helpful, are struggling in the same ways you are. When this happens then no one is benefiting the other and it may be a sign for each person to work on their own self-development, self-reflection and change the way they have been going about networking altogether.

How Do I Position Myself to Network Better?

It starts with being honest with yourself. You need to evaluate your current circles (friendships, spiritual, family, workplace, acquaintances, and others). Identify whether or not you have been of any value addition to them or whether they have been of any value addition to you.

Determine to improve yourself and if there are certain members of your circles you need to break away from then let those connections phase out on their own or discontinue interaction if you must (especially for toxic, manipulative, emotionally and financially draining ones).

To get the most out of networking, you must be a valuable piece of the puzzle yourself. You must always have something worthwhile to bring to the table. It’s give and take. For instance, if you seek intelligent conversation, you need to be someone who can offer the same to others. People want to know if there’s some way they can benefit from you too. This protects them and you from potential opportunists, schemers, con artists, timewasters or dishonest people.

There’s a plethora of easy to digest resources online to help you improve your knowledge, etiquette, personal brand, and other areas of personal development you feel need to be worked on. Self-development apps are easily accessible via smartphones and you can take advantage of related workshops in your community or find suitable mentors to help you on your journey.

Most of these resources are free but good things don’t come cheap and it’s wiser to invest in paid-for seminars, webinars, or conferences; purchase books (audio, soft copy or print versions); pay a professional mentor for their time (they have little to spare and might need an incentive to commit to your mentor-mentee sessions); and apps that prompt you to pay so you upgrade to premium access and unlock features most helpful to you.

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