Six top networking tips from Ama Duncan, Founder of the Fabulous Woman Network (FWN) in Ghana
Our journey with Challenges Worldwide during the Kumasi Spring 2017 placement has so far been something incredible! It has not only exposed us to work with small and medium scale enterprises (SME’s), it has also helped build strong interpersonal relationships. The partnership of both UK volunteers and In-country volunteers has pushed us outside our comfort zone to interact with those who do not share the same culture as us.
Having to work in counterpart pairs and living as one big family in host homes has helped us connect on a very special level.
But we ask ourselves this question; after the placement, will we be able to keep these connections that have been created? Of this we are confident. But we then asked ourselves, after the programme and into the future, how can we create and develop new connections that could be of significant value to us?
Network Network Network
Ama has spoken at several women empowerment events, TV shows and radio stations as part of her goal to “celebrate, develop and inspire women to shine in their own corners”. During the session, we were particularly impressed about how Ama Duncan has used networking to progress in her career, and how she has helped others to do the same.
According to Ama, to achieve a successful networking experience it is important to adhere to the following simple tips:
Target several networking venues
Networking with people can take place everywhere you find yourself. It is important to target multiple types of network venues. Attend events, talk to people in the taxi, and most importantly be active in any social group (E.g. school, workplace, church etc.); so basically anywhere you find yourself!
Don’t be a bother!
What would be your reaction if you are chewing on a chicken bone and someone pops up and say “hi I am XYZ can I…?” one key principle to an effective networking is knowing “WHEN” to interact with people. Never walk into a conversation without considering the convenience of the other party. To achieve a successful networking always interact when it’s convenient for both parties.
“Dress for success!” Always keep a business card and a smile with you at all times. Whether you are employed or not it is a good idea to keep a basic card with your name, contact information and something about the role you seek/currently hold, which can be exchanged whenever you make a new connection.
Go with a friend
This tip is specifically directed to people who are shy or timid in the midst of accomplished people. Attending a networking event with a social butterfly can allow them to help with the initial introduction to new contacts and build up your networking skills.
Your introduction must be simple
Keeping it simple in your introduction is always the best and safe way to connect with people you don’t know. There is the need to be bold, audible and polite in your questioning. Quickly find a common ground in which both of you can relate, but avoid anything which is potentially controversial. Remember to close the chat by exchanging contacts.
Remember to follow-up
Most people find it difficult keeping up with their contacts. To ensure the connection you made at an event last night will remember you when they want to hire someone with your skills, make sure you send them a follow-up message (via linked in, WhatsApp etc.) and don’t be afraid to continue this with greetings over significant holidays and events to build a relationship with your new contacts.
The key thing to take from Ama is to know how and when to turn strangers into contacts, contacts into networks, and networks into opportunities. We should take these lessons, and apply them to the networks we have created. This will provide a template to create new opportunities for ourselves.
“Know how and when to turn strangers into contacts, contacts into networks, and networks into opportunities”
We are looking forward to a very memorable experience for the rest of our time here, and one of the most important things we want to take away when the programme is finished is the bond of the networks we have created, and the chance to build much more.
Written by Belinda Ayamba and Samuel Nyarko Agyapong from Team Kumasi
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