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A few months ago, I sat with the CEO and Founder of Blue Ember Concepts, Nelton Johnson. His company is a leading design entity in Jamaica which aims to constantly frustrate tradition with creativity.
Having amassed over 20 years of business experience, one can imagine the wealth of knowledge he has garnered and when expressed, the impact that his gems of wisdom have on his listeners especially if it’s a maturing creative entrepreneur.
As you can imagine, with the wide array of possible things to discuss, the beginning of our discourse was an enthusiastic search for the right topic. However, like the sand on the sea floor of Coco Plum Beach, we settled on a topic that is of utmost importance to any budding
businessman or woman – Networking.
Networking is the deliberate connection to someone with common goals and objectives for the purpose of elevation of character through idea and information sharing, or it is simply about who knows you and who you know.
This sometimes very uncomplicated act is highly important to the starting and managing of an enterprise. That is due to the fact that people conduct business with people they know and trust.
However, while the pertinence of this key business element can’t be strongly opposed, it remains stained by the ills of business culture within the professional and social spaces of the Caribbean.
The idea of intentionally forming relationships with people who will contribute to your personal growth has been severely watered down to just having an unfair and undeserving advantage of securing good fortune over someone else.
Thus, many persons believe that not being connected to a possible employer or someone “in the system”, is enough to discourage them from submitting a job application. But can we blame them? There are many qualified individuals whose efforts to seek employment have been disregarded because the employer favoured the requisition of his kind-hearted unqualified sister -neighbour’s, brother’s son.
However, what you may find interesting is that it is not bad for a proprietor to favour a family or long-time friend to fill a vacancy. What is unacceptable though, is the appointment of an applicant on the sole basis of friendship and family.
What it all boils down to is a cohesive relationship between relatability and value. Knowing the character traits, behaviours, mindset, and moral standing of an individual with whom you hold ties, only becomes advantageous when those positive traits are founded on a qualified ability to perform. This goes beyond the hiring process as well because valuable networks are important to individual and corporate success.
Now, how do you form a valuable network? Well, it has to do with what your goals are – whether personal, professional, academic etc. After becoming certain of your goals, the next task is to strategically and intentionally connect with persons who share common interests and who can help you to mature into living your fullest potential.
Additionally, assuming you have friends – and I hope you do, evaluate them to know if they are of benefit to your growth and development. Are they helping you achieve your goals? Do you see any future benefit of that relationship, or are you just comfortable having small talks?
At the end of the day, it all depends on if you want to become more efficient, if you’d want to accelerate your career, access new information, attain altered perspectives to life and form long-lasting relationships.
However, as much as it is important, there are many persons who shiver at the thought of having to start a conversation with a stranger at a function.
If you are one such person, develop a strategy that includes possible questions to ask which may help you start a discussion or better, walk with business cards and let them do the talking.
All in all, there is no denying the importance and the effectiveness of a quality network. It’s not about getting a job, acquiring new friends, or learning how to talk to people. It’s about success and an improved quality of life. So, start building!