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A couple of years ago, I attended an event and in the middle of it, I came to the lobby with a friend to have a chat. Another friend walked in with a man who I later came to know was a Lebanese. He introduced me to this Lebanese. Once my friend mentioned my name and what I do, the Lebanese said he was already following me on Twitter.
Right away he reached his pocket and gave me his business card. I was suppose to give mine in return but I didn’t have. He insisted I called his number at that moment so he could save mine. I did. Checked his card and he was an importer of some textiles and other stuff. A big time businessman for his smallish looks. He was a football fan too. We exchanged some few messages and that was it.
Two years later, I got an international call. He had moved back to his country and now got approached by football clubs in his country to recommend footballers from Ghana for them because he had had a fair idea of the Ghana football. This is why he called me. Knowing I was into sports, I was first on the contact list. I connected him to a Ghanaian administrator and agent. They struck deals for some three footballers to travel and later paid me a commission for linking them. Something I got for merely accepting a contact. I didn’t learn any serious networking lessons from this.
Over the weekend, I attended a party. Walked through the crowd and greeted those I know and walked to sit with some colleagues. Then I saw one Chinese approach us. He had been moving from table to table so I thought he was just exchanging pleasantries. He had been invited too. He came and mentioned his name, what he does and then hand over his card. He looks at who is more receptive and then stays around to ask a few questions and what you do.
He left after some few minutes to another table. There were some dignitaries and he made sure he approached whoever gave him ears. Myself and colleagues left the party without being able to approach any of the top dignitaries there either for contact or give out ours. He is a mechanical Engineer and Bridge Construction Expert. Here I am again thinking I am not a politician to be able to offer him contracts.
This Chinese guy, like the Lebanese I met, is thinking into the future and the larger picture. May be very difficult at our age to be able to transform from this nature but we can start with our kids. I’m sure these Chinese and other guys are specially trained in school at an early age, on the need for networking and creating relationship.
Nigerians are naturally good at this too. A typical Ghanaian may get an invitation to a high profile event, travel or bump into a group of people he may need to approach but will eat and walk off.
I worked in an office with a young lady who was schooled in Russia. She seems to have the skill and courage to approach, get the attention and strike connection with many of the top people who come in. She got that job through a relative of the owner she met at a school event.
But I ask, why then is it so difficult for many others? May be it is a skill and education. May be it comes naturally. Sometimes, it’s got to do with our ego, training and fear. Everyone’s thinking they are big, that nobody can help them or they are afraid they’ll be turned down. But you lose nothing.
Also, mentality, especially when it’s got to do with the opposite sex. A guy is only taking the contact of a lady in an office or at the field because of one thing. May be yes or may be not. But the lady is also thinking about same.
Our education system should include these unwritten rules of life such as Networking. Being able to establishing and developing long-term relations of mutual benefit with people you meet in different places. Hard work is good but a little strike of luck even at a small chop bar can make a lifetime connection.
I know that, sometimes it can be draining and intimidating. It is made to appear you are just begging for favours. But largely not that. The way some seemingly successful Ghanaians can squeeze their face will even scare a goat off.
For some people in business I’ve met, like Kofi Osei who readily comes to mind anytime this thing rings in my head. Many have successfully developed the skill of networking but majority of us Ghanaians are so awful at it. When two typical Ghanaians are separated in a six-hour flight, they will try any means to change seats and come to together and have same old jokes and convo. We can’t strike acquaintance with strangers. We can’t start.
We do not have the skill to approach and connect with people from different professions, nationalities, and cultures which essentially will give us broader scope of life.
Most times also, adwen bone nti (bad mentality) even for people to approach you, or for you to approach someone is such a difficult move. All jokes aside, we should inculcate this habit in our children.
Credit: Sadick Adams