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#Employability101: Supercharge your Network and Networking Skills

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Last time I started a series on practical steps you can take to get out of unemployment. I will take off from where I stopped the last time, in this edition I will be focusing on the importance of networking

Build your Network

The saying is true that “your network is your net worth”. You aren’t likely to grow beyond your network. An Italian Economist, Vilfredo Pareto proposed a principled called ‘The 80-20 rule.’ The rule which states that 20 percent of the people in an economy control 80 percent of the resources or wealth. The rule which in this case could mean that 20 percent of the population control 80 percent of the jobs. As much as I agree with the Pareto principle but regarding the issue of unemployment in this part of the world I feel that it is 90-10 rule – which means that 10 percent of the population controls 90 percent of the jobs. I feel this is so because the gap between the poor and the rich in this region is far too wide.

There is a wide inequality gap in this part of the world, the ‘haves’ are miles apart from the have ‘nots.’ So if you’re going to get a good job fast, you’ve got to reduce this gap by becoming visible to the 10 percent that controls 90 percent of the jobs. You can’t afford to start envying people at the top who have gone ahead in their career as it won’t do you any good. You’ve got to constantly seek for ways to expand and improve your network and connect with the people that matters in your field. The truth is that there is a hidden job market and it takes networking to break into that market. It is hidden because not everyone can access it.

Reports have shown that only 20 percent of hires are recruited through job boards while the remaining 80 percent are gotten through networking and referrals. In my own case, in the past 4 months, I’ve gotten 6 job offers. Of that 6, I only got one through a job board after applying to countless vacancies online which I was qualified for, the rest I got while not even looking for a job. I got it through referral and networking, I will just get a mail from someone I met somewhere asking if I would be interested in taking up a particular role. I got the job I’m currently on after connecting with one of the facilitators at a career training I attended, I connected with him after the training and in less than two months the relationship resulted in the job I’m currently on. I got my first 3 jobs through referral. The first one was my internship, the other 2 were informal jobs I took upon graduation.

If you will pay more attention to networking than you’re currently paying, it may result in jobs for you. But here is a golden rule of networking I’d love you to be mindful about, it is supposed to be a mutual relationship and not a parasitic one. It has to be two sided, you must have a value proposition you’re bringing to the table in that relationship. Realize this that everyone has a circle of influence – the area which they are strong and can offer help and a circle of concern – the area which they are not strong and need help. Identify their circle of concern and maximize it. As little as preparing a slide for a busy CEO is, a lot of CEOs will really appreciate it because of their busy schedule, as little as presenting a customized birthday card is, it can perform the magic for you in your networking relationship. While a lot of job seekers die in self pity and complain that they don’t know anyone who can help them there are a few people who know how powerful it is to connect with the people that matters in their field and are constantly leveraging on it. Always be on the lookout for where people that matter in your field are gathering and see how you can be relevant in that gathering.

Attend Intellectual and Professional Events.

This is related to networking as I explained above. Attending events presents you with opportunities and platforms to connect with industry experts and those that matters in your field. As a job seeker, every opportunity to connect with the class of people who can get you a job should be appreciated and maximized. There is always a place where experts in a particular field and industry gather. For the Petroleum Engineers it is the Society of Petroleum Engineers meeting, for the Accountants, it is the Institute of Chartered Accountant, for the general engineering practitioners it is The Society of Engineers, for the Human Resource Professionals it is either Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM) or Charted Institute of Personal Managers (CIPM). Whatever your field is always look for ways to be a part of what they are doing.

Figure out how you can be resourceful at the event, talk with the organizers that you’ll love to give a helping hand, they are likely to grant you access. It is in such places that you get to meet the decision makers in your field and with each opportunity to connect at such events you need to make a lasting impression. You need to show your personal brand and sell yourself to them. Ask for their business cards and contact details and make sure you follow up.

The fact that there are a lot of people who can help you get a job at such events doesn’t mean you have to go there singularly because you need a job neither do you have to start begging them for a job, it could irritate them. It serves as an advantage for you as you will have first hand information as to future opportunities and depending on how good your networking skills are you can get a job through your interaction with them.

Apart from professional events there are also business and networking events that happen in several places. Check on the internet and see the events happening around you, look up on events website and check out the latest events. After connecting with people at events, always seek ways that you could add value to them after the event. It is in doing this that you build the relationship.


Ademulegun Olowojoba

Employment Solutions Strategist#

Twitter: @adeolowojoba

Facebook: Olowojoba Bidemi Ademulegun

BBM: 2709C04B

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About Author

Ademulegun Olowojoba is an Employment Solutions Strategist, Public speaker, Writer and a Trainer. He’s served on the board of several youth development organizations. He has facilitated several programmes on employability and youth development on Raypower fm, Adaba fm, Positive fm and three other radio stations in Ondo State. Prior to his relocation to Lagos in March 2014 he was the host of Champions Dose, on Zuma 88.5 fm, Abuja, a weekly inspirational radio programme which is listened to across five states in North Central Nigeria including the capital city of Abuja. He has also trained hundreds of passing out NYSC Corps members in Niger State on Employability and Entrepreneurship . He is currently a Consultant at Career Solutions Africa, an Organization which is committed to meeting the career needs of people and organizations. Ade is passionate about solving the problem of ignorance and unemployment among African Youths.

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