For your career to take off, you will need the help of people who will avail opportunities, know-how and connections. Just like a popular quote by American businessman and media magnate Sumner Redstone states: “If you never venture beyond what you know… You have spawned your own limitations.”
To grow your professional relationships, start with the people you already know; your family and friends who will eventually introduce you to their family and friends, which will continuously expand your networking circle to a level that is satisfactory to you.
Although networking might be difficult for naturally introverted people, they must make an effort to go out and meet new people because that is one way in which careers and businesses are built.
TV personality, fashion designer and host of the popular Kwivuga Poetry Sessions, Nunu Umuringa Butare’s career is an embodiment of the power of networking. As a social entrepreneur, her business depends on the good will of as many people as possible.
“I was lucky to realise that one cannot grow or succeed in a vacuum so I set out to meet as many people as possible and make meaningful connections. I attend every event I am invited to, offer help whenever I am called upon, and treat every connection with as much respect as possible,” she says.
Networks have the power to break barriers and establish the most unlikely relationships. Edwin Musiime, the NTV Property Show presenter, says he has entered the House of Lords, accessed the United States White House relying on the power of networks.
“I always say that our networks determine our net worth. The power of networking has enabled me attain high levels of leverage across all spheres of influence. The Bible says iron sharpens iron; people make you a better, wiser and stronger person” Musiime reveals.
Networks also help influence decision, avail mentors, life coaches and role models that are very essential for both business and career growth. As Musiime says, we are always five people away from the person we want to meet the most in the universe; someone you know might know someone who knows someone else, who knows that person you believe has the power to change your life forever. “One of my role models and personal mentor is Vusi Thembekwayo who is regarded as the world’s youngest and most impressive public speaker and I met him through my vast connections. I can testify that meeting him changed my life in all ways; financially, emotionally and spiritually,” adds Musiime.
Like all relationships in life, networks need to be cultivated and nurtured or they die off. Public relations specialist Muhereza Kyamutetera avers that networks need reciprocity and integrity to flourish.
“In life, we all look for relationships that benefit us either financially, emotionally or intellectually. We, therefore, seek to make connections with people that are likely to fulfill those desires. Likewise, people are drawn to us because of what they think we can do for them. So meeting these expectations is important,” Kyamutetera opines.
He further recommends treating every individual relationship with the utmost importance and respect.
Join an association
Most professions have an association or union that brings people together. Wilson Kutegeka, the chief executive officer of ClinicMaster, is a member of the Information and Communications Technology Association of Uganda (ICTAU). “I have benefited through connections with international organisations such as the Netherlands Trust Fund which helped develop ClinicMaster to suit international standards thus getting us clients from all over the East Africa region. This would have been a very expensive and strenuous task had I undertaken it on my own,” Kutegeka shares.