Networking can elicit groans and dread from even the savviest of business leaders. If you dislike networking or feel like you’re bad at it, or if you believe you don’t NEED to do it, this episode is for you. Akua starts with why networking is important and gives four important things to work on to become better at building connections in business and in life.
Learn why reframing your thinking and becoming self-aware about your beliefs around networking can help you build more authentic relationships. Plus, Akua gives some amazing resources (linked below) where you can find additional information to up your networking game.
Remember that networking is about building connections and engaging with others, and if done well, it can better your reputation, increase visibility, and create a stronger network.
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What's Covered in this Episode About Operational Networking
- Akua talks about her evolving relationship with networking and how she went from feeling uncomfortable to actually enjoying the process.
- There are three types of professional networking: operational networking, personal networking, and strategic networking.
- Learn about the four critical elements for effective networking: focusing on learning, identifying common interests, thinking broadly about what you can offer, and finding a higher purpose.
- Find out how many connections you need for peak networking - more isn’t always better!
Quotes from this Episode of Open Door Conversations
"Networking refers to building mutually beneficial connections with other professionals and other people within your personal life. Mutually beneficial, I think is the key word here."
"When your networking is driven by shared interest, it feels more authentic."
Mentioned in Network Internally First
Get to Know the Host of the Open Door Conversations Podcast
Learn more about your host, Akua Nyame-Mensah.
Akua is a certified executive and leadership coach, recognized learning and organizational development facilitator, speaker, and former startup executive.
Since 2018, she has had the opportunity to partner with amazing organizations, from high-growth startups to multinational brands all around the world, to maximize people, performance, and profit. Outside of her coaching and corporate speaking engagements, she is a regular mentor, coach, and judge for various entrepreneurship-focused organizations.
Stay in touch with Akua Nyame-Mensah, Leadership & Culture Advisor:
NOTE: Please excuse any errors in this transcript; it was created using an AI tool. Akua Nyame-Mensah 00:00 I'm terrible at networking. I suck at networking. No one cares to connect with me. I don't need to network my work will speak for itself. If you've ever said any of these statements to yourself about networking, you need to listen to this episode. Hello and welcome to the open door conversations podcast. My name is a Korea Nyame-Mensah. I also respond to Aqua and Akua. I'm a certified executive and leadership coach recognised learning and organisational development facilitator, speaker and former startup executive. And I am so excited because this year I'm celebrating five years of working for myself five years of supporting leaders. And I am so grateful because I've had the opportunity to partner with amazing organisations, from hydro startups to multinational brands all around the world. In 2022. Alone, I serve over 600 Yes, over 600 leaders around the world. And in this podcast, you will have the opportunity to learn my three step leadership framework. I actually break it down in Episode 71. I use this framework with my high achieving and entrepreneurial minded clients that are juggling a million responsibilities so they can easily build wealth. This three step framework is going to teach you how to leverage your innate personality to learn how to prioritise and maximise not just your time, but also your money. You don't have to work harder or turn into someone else. To get more done. Let's tune into this week's episode. Hello, and welcome to this week's open door conversations episode. I'm really excited about today's episode, I am going to be sharing a little bit about networking within the context of engagement. And I'm really excited about it because I've gone from feeling like networking was sleazy and manipulative to realising how much fun it can be to connect with, learn from and support others. Some of those statements I shared at the intro are definitely statements I used to stay to myself. And what was happening was that I was uncomfortable with putting myself out there. What has helped me reframe my relationship with networking, a lot of work on cultivating my awareness around the stories I've been telling myself about networking, and engaging in a way that was definitely outside my comfort zone, but aligned with my goals and interests. And now for the most part networking feels authentic, and genuine. If that little story resonated with you, please make sure you take a look at a recent article I actually put together around networking and how important it's actually been to my business, I will make sure I link to the article that I wrote for NG Africa in the shownotes. I also have a previous episode where I share my tips as a reluctant networker. It's episode number 43, a hashtag ask Akua episode, I will make sure I also link that in the shownotes as well. So enough about me and my evolving relationship with networking. Let's jump into talking about networking as it relates to engagement. And I think it's important actually, to start off with a definition. I really liked this definition I found online because it's really what I've come to believe. And when I think about engagement in general, it's really about focusing on creating those Win Win opportunities. So here's the definition I really would recommend that you reflect on and maybe even take on if networking is something that you would like to get better at. So networking refers to building mutually beneficial connections with other professionals and other people within your personal life. Mutually beneficial, I think is the key word here. I also really appreciated this breakdown of the three basic types of professional networking that I found on psychology.org. And once again, I think it's really important to reflect on this because for so many of us and I know this is something I believed as well. We think of networking as something we do external of ourselves, or external of our families external of, you know, maybe even the workplace but you could be networking with your family. I think that's actually a really interesting way to think about it. You could also be networking within your organisation if you work for a company. So here are the three basic types of professional networking from the psychology.org website. So the first is operational networking, and that actually means developing intra organisational relationships. So in other words, building stronger connections with your colleagues. So that's networking within your organisation. That's one way to think about it. And for me Any of us, that's going to be incredibly important if we want to climb the ladder, if we want to get access to additional opportunities, if we want promotions, if we want to get sponsors and mentors, operational networking can be incredibly important. Another thing that we can think about is personal networking. And that really defines what most people mean. And this is what I was referring to before, when they use the term networking and quotes. And this is meeting other industry or sector professionals that work in different organisations with the goal of enhancing your career. So that's number two. And number three is strategic networking. And that essentially combines the two abovementioned types of networking. So reflect on what types of networking Do you tend to do? So I do a lot of I would say, personal networking, I work for myself, primarily, I do work within some organisations as a consultant or part of a pool. And so there's definitely some operational networking that happens. But I'd love for you to reflect on what type of networking Do you tend to do? And maybe even what type of networking do you need to do to help hit whatever goals that you have in your personal and your professional life. And here's the thing, and this is something that I had to learn, I think something that I had to remind myself is that we networking quotes, whether or not we're looking for a new job, or new clients, we're constantly networking, we're constantly connecting with people to build mutually beneficial opportunities, connections, things. All right. So if you have a hard time networking, but you want to get better at it, you really might want to focus on these three elements. Sorry, there are four elements I found in this Harvard Business Review article called Learn to love networking. And so the first thing they definitely recommend, and I do want to share this, it's a quote I found in that article is when your networking is driven by shared interest, it feels more authentic. And so they suggest focusing on four key things if you want to get better at networking, if you want to start to love networking. And as I mentioned before, I've had my own evolving relationship with networking. If you take a look at that article I shared that I wrote for ink Africa, I also talk about that evolving relationship with networking. So this article suggests you focus on four things. The first is to focus on learning. The second is to identify common interest. The third is to think broadly about what you can give. For a lot of people, I think this really makes it difficult for them to connect with others. And what you can give can truly be beyond an additional connection. And number four, find a higher purpose. So this is something that I think a lot about with the connections I try to make and within my own networking, and so if you want to work on your network, you have some ideas on how to do that. The next question that probably is gonna come up for you naturally, organically is how many people should I have my network or I don't have the time or energy to find more people. And so there's some really interesting research actually around the number of people that we can actually maintain stable social relationships with. So in the 1990s, Professor Robin Dunbar, who's a British anthropologist came up with this idea of the Dunbar's number. And what he found in his research is that human beings can only connect with or have a stable social relationship with between 102 150 people, right, so if something comes up for you, a story that comes up for you is saying, hey, like, I can't, you can't do any more, or I don't have the energy, it's really time potentially, for you to audit the types of people that you're connecting with and potentially networking with. And so this particular research takes into account the immediate family, extended family and friends. And that's why one of the things I was sharing earlier is that you really might want to broaden your idea of what networking is, because we're constantly networking, we're constantly, you know, engaging with others. It's what we do naturally as human beings. So keeping that in mind, we all pretty much should be aiming for a professional network of around 150 people. So really reflect on who are those 150 people for you might be a little bit more might be a little less. But that's really something that hopefully, will give you an idea of, you know, how many people should I have in my network? What should I be really looking for? And maybe even when too much is too much? Right? So that's really, I think, something very interesting. And something I like to reflect on as well. Now that I've talked about some of the stories that hold us back some of the research around networking, how many people that we can actually have stable social relationships with I'm sure you're asking yourself now like, how do I build a new habit? How do I build a routine about that? And what frameworks maybe can I even use to reach out to others and I've got you I actually already have some content around this. So what I would love to do is recommend that you listen to two additional pieces of content that I add should already have on my website. So the first and I definitely recommend this to you and I've definitely had other people reach out to say how much they actually enjoy this episode is, I'd recommend that you listen to podcast episode number 63. How to become a master networker with someone who actually went to my college. Bryn Mawr Her name is Karen jaw Madson. And in this episode, we talk to Karen, who is an executive coach, and also an amazing author about how networking should be included into our daily habits, how to build authentic relationships, and how to play a role in helping to connect others as well. Karen does this incredibly well. She's connected with me some amazing opportunities. And she truly believes that it's something that you need to be doing intentionally. And you shouldn't let networking fall by the wayside because you lack confidence or don't know how to follow up after an initial meeting. She believes that networking is like a flywheel and that it's really through small efforts over time, where you're able to create momentum, and that compounds as our web of relationships grow. So if that's something that resonates, if you want a little learn a little bit more about how Karen does it, make sure you listen to episode number 63, how to become a master networker, the second, it's not an episode, it's actually a recording of a LinkedIn audio event. But I think a very relevant LinkedIn audio event, if you want to improve your networking skills within this LinkedIn audio event with the amazing twin, we actually talk about a framework that she's come up with. And this particular framework can really support you in once again, building those Win Win opportunities. So one of the things that Tanya actually said within this conversation that we hosted on LinkedIn is that we cannot think that the way for to get more clients or more sales will be to sit down in front of them and have a one sided conversation, as we maybe have done in the past. Now you have to get the person invested in you from the time you open your mouth to introduce what it is you do and the value that you provide. And so Toyota has this approach. It's called the Vator pitch approach. We talk all about it within that recording. And so if you want to learn this simple framework that she teaches, where she's really helping people create those quality connections and helping people show the value that they provide up front, take a listen to that recording. It was a really great framework. I know that people that joined got a lot of value. People that listened into the recording also got a lot of value as well to close. Remember that networking is really about building connections with others, and that is really engaging with others. And it should always be beneficial to both parties. You want to create space to create those Win Win opportunities. And by creating the time to do that, you'll have a better reputation, increased visibility, a stronger support network, improve business growth, and most importantly, more impactful connections. As always, let me know what you think if you have the opportunity to try any of the tips I've shared in this episode. If you've taken a listen to any of the episodes and recordings that I suggest, please make sure you reach out and let me know how it goes and how it went. Now get out there and start networking. Thank you so much for listening to this week's episode, please share this episode with someone who can benefit from its contents. If you found this episode helpful, I want to ask you to leave a review. This makes it easier for other people to find my podcasts and also allows me to bring on even bigger guests and even more fascinating stories. Thank you so much for listening again. Stay safe and stay sane