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Long before data became king, I had a penchant for keeping information. This may not have been so without my father, who taught his children the importance of good record keeping. On a fateful day, I was confronted by Cynthia, the tallest girl in my class, “What is it you want to do with my name”? Before I could put my thoughts together in response to her question, “What do you want to do with my name” had become a chorus and a practical demonstration of the law of equilibrium.  There was no better way to experience Newton’s law of motion than being pulled by near equal forces from opposite directions. I eventually pulled some Jackie Chan stunts to get loose from my accuser’s grip and saved my explanation for my male friends who cared to listen to my account: the thought that some of my classmates would leave for secondary school from Primary 5 made me keep a record of all their names in one of my jotters. Today, the importance of data and networking is trending and they have become synonymous with successful businesses and social media initiatives. Many years after my experience with primary 5B girls (1998 set) at Sacred Heart Nursery and Primary School, not much has changed about ladies and the significance they attach to their social information. Each time I board the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) to work, I carefully select who I sit next to. Before I reach my destination, I find a way to initiate a conversation and round it up with “I will like to meet you again. The next time we meet, we should not be strangers. Can I have your mobile contact, LinkedIn profile URL or your social media name?” This approach was inspired after reading a thought-provoking article by Richard Branson where he argued that a lot of networking and business opportunities are missed when individuals stay glued to their electronic devices in transit and at events, and fail to engage the people around them. He recalled business opportunities he sealed via contacts made during flights and pointed out that the device will remain but the opportunity to meet some individuals might only come once. On request for their contact information, 90% of ladies respond with, “don’t worry”, or “there is no need”. To one I replied, “You don’t know who I am” and she responded, “You don’t know who I am too.” I continued, “I do not know who you are that’s why I want to meet you … don’t you understand?” I have devised a solution: each time an individual declines to avail me of his/her contact information, I pull out my notepad and write down a link to my online profiles and verbally tell them what I do. “I build websites and help develop businesses. If you have any project that is ICT related, I will be willing to help.” Surprisingly, the guys I have engaged in the BRT buses give me their numbers, without much resistance. Does every guy who requests for a lady’s contact details do so for immoral reasons? Why are women overprotective of their social information? Are ladies clinging to mum and dad’s ancient instruction of, “do not talk or reveal your identity to a stranger”? Dear friend, networking is a must-have skill for entrepreneurs and all who want to succeed at business. The women folk should please know that not all who ask for their contact details does so for immoral motives – many ladies are quick to make this assumption. Sadly, I take it to mean illiteracy and ignorance. Use the blocking option on your phone to blacklist guys who pester your life with those things you classify as irritants instead of shutting yourself out of opportunities that could be beneficial to your life. If you are a lady reading this article, what do you have to say in defense of this crime constantly committed by you? The men, have you experienced same? What do you make of such moments? I look forward to reading your thoughts – share them as comments in the comment section below.       About the Writer: Olorunfemi Babatunde is a business developer by occupation, a writer by nature; an ICT enthusiast by interest and a Mechanical Engineering by training. He own and administers an eduportal, Connect with him on linkedin and facebook  

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This article was first published on 4th May 2015 and updated on May 5th, 2015 at 12:03 pm

Comments (3)

3 thoughts on “How to Build a Professional Network From Unconventional Places”

  • Thank you for this article. I think the way things are now, networking in the unconventional place is receiving stronger patronage.

    • I agree with you. People are becoming aware that you can start building a network anywhere

  • Nice write-up. Actually, I wouldn’t blame ladies, one has to be careful this days. However, in order not to miss out on network opportunities, sizing up the guy first, can be a way out.

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