The importance of having the right people around you was captured in a statement by Tim Sanders who said; “Your network is your net-worth”. This means the people you surround yourself with to a large extent determine how far you go and how much you can achieve in life.
The richest man in China, Alibaba’s co-founder – Jack Ma started out as an English teacher. In 1994, he heard about the Internet and was fascinated about the potentials of this new technology. When he visited USA in 1995 and learnt more about the Internet, he was disturbed that he couldn’t get any information about China on the net. So he and his friend (a computer teacher) created and launched an “ugly” Chinese website. In less than 6 hours he got mails from Chinese investors wishing to know about him and the company. Jack and his friend later opened an office for www.chinapage.com in Hangzhou, Zhejiang. They started their 2nd company, registering the domain chinapages.com in the United States. Within 3 years the company made the equivalence of US$800,000. Soon, Ma began building websites for Chinese companies with the help of friends in the United State.
In 1999, Jack Ma co-found Alibaba, the China-based business-to-business marketplace site in his apartment with a group of 18 friends.
The interesting thing about Jack Ma’s story is the fact that he had no technical knowledge about computing or coding. He personally claimed that he had never written a line of code nor made one sale to a customer. In fact, he acquired a computer for the first time at the age of 33. So how was he able to record such success, running technology-based companies? This is the answer; he had the right people in his network. At the World Economic Forum at Davos 2018, Jack Ma said; “I know nothing about technology, I know nothing about management, I don’t have to know a lot of things… You just have to find the people smarter than you.” That is Jack Ma’s secret- He grew his capacity by developing his network.
One important way to expand your capacity and execute your big dreams is by growing your network. No matter how brilliant or determined you are, there are some things you can only achieve with the help of others. I can honestly say that having the right people in my network has contributed to the achievements I have made – either as a husband and father, a pastor, CEO or public servant. During my time in Lagos State Government, we were able to equip 35,500 students from 8 institutions through the ReadySetWork initiative. The truth is we couldn’t have executed that project without the over 3,000 members of the volunteer faculty, project assistants, logistics team and more who gave their time, talent, and resources for the success of the project. Together we achieved more.
An African proverb emphasizes the importance of human network, it says; “people are my covering, when I look back and see my people, I know I am not naked… Whoever has clothes but lacks human relationships, is naked.”
I would like to share 3 tips for developing valuable networks.
- Attend Networking Events and Places
Going to networking events puts you in the position to meet a variety of people and make new connections that could be vital to your career and personal development. However, it is important to be deliberate about the kind of event to attend ensuring that it attracts the people you want to meet. When attending an event, you should prepare adequately; research about the event and the people attending. You should also set clear goals about what you hope to get from such events. This way, you can maximize the opportunities they offer.
- Be Deliberate About Leaving a Good Impression
When you are around people you want to connect with, you need to maximize the opportunity. Make your presence noticeable, be approachable and ready to engage conversations appropriately. As you ask the right questions and make the right contributions, you get noticed and eventually leave a good impression. It is also wise to follow up with a text message, email or call within a short time after the meeting. This reinforces the impression formed.
- Be Willing to Add Value
People are easily attracted to value. You must be willing to add value to the people around you. When they observe that your motive is to add value to them, they will easily connect. So whether you are building relationship with a superior, mentor, peer, subordinate or protégée, be mindful about adding value.
It’s important to note that networking is not just about “accumulating” a long contact list. Good networking is not about the quantity of people you connect with, but the quality. Networking should be deliberate and planned because the people in your life can either make or break you. It is better to keep a small circle of relationships you can invest in and get help to achieve your goals than trying to be everybody’s friend.
Remember, You Have Only One Life to Live, MAKE IT COUNT.