You’ve probably heard this before “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with someone”
We’d make a slight change to that- If you want to go far, go with others.
Building a career is a brave thing to do. It’s not something you can do successfully on your own and here’s where community comes in.
A community is simply a group of people with a common interest. For example, we have the I4G community that’s a group of people interested in building successful tech careers. Being a part of this community gives you access to other African techies who are taking the bold step of building careers in tech.
Asides the resources, scholarship and job opportunities we share in the I4G community, an important benefit you can get is quality relationships because the people are really what make up a community and you can do this through NETWORKING!
You cannot build a career on your own. You need others. Community helps you create relationships with like minded people, this gives you an opportunity to collaborate with each other and create solutions to problems.
If you’re a part of a community (or about to join a community), ask yourself these two questions:
1. Who are you?
When you meet someone online or physically, the first question they might ask is “who are you?” You need to know who you are, the value you have to offer, the impact you want to make with the skills you have or hope to learn. When you can define this, people will be able to connect with you better.
2. What do you want from the community?
Don’t just join a community because it seems nice to be there, you won’t get the best of it if you do this. Ask yourself, what do I want to get from this community? Do I want to meet new people? Do I want to participate in activities that improve my skills? Do I want to learn new skills?
Answering these questions would help you know what you want and the people you would like to connect with as you network.
Here are 3 things you can do to help you network effectively in your community:
1. Be interested in others
When people share things about themselves and the work they do, engage with them. Ask about their work so you get to learn more about them. If they share their work online, post a comment that’s relevant to their post. You can also repost/retweet if you find it interesting. People love to connect with people that are genuinely interested in them.
2. Be an active participant
It’s not enough to be a part of a community, you need to be active. People can only know the value you can bring, when you show it. You can do this by participating in community activities e.g hackathons, online/offline events. When you’re participating in an activity, engage with other people too. Ask them questions and offer to help those in need, that way you’re able to build a connection and this would help you showcase the skills you have, learn new skills and meet other people.
3. Leverage social media
Social media is a great place to network. Over 2.9 billion people are active on social media. You can get to meet new people by sharing your work and interacting with other people’s posts. Don’t just engage with “popular people”, you need to network sideways, upwards and downwards. This simply means interacting with people above you (upwards), people on the same level with you (sideways) and people you’re ahead of (downwards). People at different levels can be valuable to you as you keep growing in your career.
Remember that effective networking is about building valuable relationships and this would take time and effort to build. Focus on the value you can get and contribute to those you network with.