Mr Foluso Phillips on Networking Part 1/2

We asked the influential Mr Foluso Phillips of Phillips Consulting Ltd to share a few words on making powerful relationships. What Mr Phillips gave us was an insightful and honest account of his experiences, but most of all some fantastic advice.

We couldn’t edit a single word, so here's Part 1 of the interview in full... enjoy!

Networking

It is important to appreciate that my network has evolved over many years and has been a function of circumstance, opportunity, responsibility and I guess one's personality.

The size of my network has not been as a result of an intentional strategy on my part, but has just happened. However, I have come to appreciate it tremendously and understand why one must make a serious attempt at building a network of friends, acquaintances, business and social colleagues - as a continuous and intentional exercise. It makes life that much more full of fun and even 'useful' to yourself and more importantly to others as well.

I mentioned circumstance - and that is in recognition of the position one has gotten to in society and the business world, which then makes you wonder, which caused what. Did my networking opportunities create advancement opportunities in society or did advancement in society create the network? I guess it’s a combination of both, each feeding on the other after a while.

Networking for me, means a serious attempt to have increasing share of people's mind, their attention, so that you are increasingly connected to them and they to you.

Networking is about developing relationships, which allow you to influence people - to be viewed as an influential person. Very well networked people have a rolodex of people that are important to their personal, business and social life. You do this by presenting yourself as being valuable to people you meet.

Do not forget that intentionally or otherwise, people you run into are trying to network too, so sometimes it should not be hard work. To feel you do not need to network - meet people, know people, appreciate people and be appreciated in return is to be complacent and be on an ego trip of sorts.

Your ability to network effectively will be dependent on your value proposition as a person - what you offer people, the value you can bring to all aspects of their lives.

How do you Network?

You have to be out there - all the time literally. Imagine you are a sales person and the product for sale is yourself. So you must take advantage of every platform to present yourself. It’s not only about projecting yourself, it’s also about learning about people who can be useful to you.

You must be seen as a nice person - of course you are the best person that God ever created, but is that perceived by the people you meet? Is that the impression you create in just 10 minutes of conversation?

The prime secret is always to show interest in the person and not his business or other aspects. There is something about giving people an opportunity to talk about themselves. They do not have to pretend and rack their brain on making conversation about some economic, technical, political or social issue. It’s so easy to talk about yourself - not intrusive questions, but just enough to let people 'show off'.

Learning and paying attention to names and even trying to remember names - which has always been a major challenge for me, I am so terrible with remembering names. Now I hide behind the fact that I meet so many people, so they have to forgive me for not remembering their name.
That excuse gets tedious when you meet the person for the umpteenth time!!

Portraying a nice personality cannot be overemphasized. You start by looking good and respectable, looking like someone who can offer value. There is no way anyone is going to be believe you can be useful if you look like you too could do with some help!!

It sounds mundane, but trust me when I say a great smile does a lot for any one - even you. It’s not easy to smile and then be cold in your attitude, so smiling works for you as well.

Walking into a room with confidence and greeting everyone enthusiastically too, is important, especially people you have met before. You want to reinforce that relationship and keep working on that share of mind. It really is not going to serve you if you walk into a room and proceed to pose - especially women, who may tend to feel that they are being forward or do not want to send what they consider as wrong signals to men.
A professional approach, conversations that show you have a point of view, genuine reactions and constant movement around a room, will show that you are only making conversation and not otherwise!

As time goes on, you must also seek opportunities for speaking engagements or at the very least, always promise yourself to ask a question or pass a comment at a public gathering that offers that opportunity. It’s just about visibility.

Do not forget that you are on a Networking mission...

Click here to continue to Part 2

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