How To Use Networking To Develop Social Capital

It is common today to hear people complain that they do not have the proper access and connections to develop their ideas. This complaint becomes the excuse for many. Developing your ideas in Nigeria requires relationship building and serious networking to make things move smoothly. How do you create social capital but remain just and fair in your dealings? This article will teach you some easy ways to do so. Networking is relationship building. It does not happen on its own; it needs an active effort to become successful. 

Cherish your inner circle, but grow beyond. 

To have friends, you can discuss even the most controversial, and offensive topics with is a deeply undervalued resource today. These friends trust your intentions. People with whom you can share ideas and thoughts serve as a soundboard for your generic idea-sharing and experiences. If you have a circle of friends with whom you can share, critique and explore, value this connection. 

To build your ideas and projects, you must connect with people beyond your internal circle of friends. You might also need to connect with organisations, government bodies, sponsors, and other potential partners. How do you go about doing this? We have developed a Network resource template which you can find in our tool platform. This template is an easy guide to help you develop and grow your network confidently. With our template, you have spaces to develop a plan for three different network targets. If you need more space, make more copies. Identify the names of the person, company or organisation with whom you want to build a relationship. 

Five crucial questions to answer before networking.

  1. What is your intention?
  2. What value can you add?
  3. How will you show commitment?
  4. What do they care about?
  5. How can you build a sincere connection?

What is your intention?

Before you embark on developing your network, clarify your intention. Identifying your intention for the networking experience is solely an internal exercise. Must you always have an intention? Yes, you should. Let no confuse things here. Having an intention is not something negative. Setting “intentions” offers you the clarity to act with purpose. Let your intention be rooted in your value. Suppose your “intention” is to help you grow your business or idea; then be very specific about the areas and the outcomes. In the space provided in the template, identify at least one major intention you have. 

What value can you add to the networking experience?

Begin with yourself! What value will you add to the other individual’s life or company? Individual people make up a network. Even when you target a company or an entity, people, humans, still run that company. So your interaction in the process has to focus of on a sincere connection with people. Identify the value you bring to the organisation if it is an organisation. In the space provided in the template, brainstorm ways in which you can add value to the person’s life or organisation.

How will you show commitment?

It is one thing to start networking and meeting people. It is another to keep up these connections and relationship. Before you embark on this journey, debate this question with yourself. How can you show commitment? Are you going to have a follow-up call, email or personal meeting? Are you going to arrange for a meeting once in 2 months or more frequently? Would you repost their work on social media? Are you going to attend their events? There are many ways to care for and develop a new relationship. Please do not wait until you need something from them before you connect again. In the space provided in the template, brainstorm ways in which you can show you care. 

What do they care about?

It is essential to know more about the people you want to connect with before meeting them, if possible. Even if it is an event, you will not know everyone; this I get. But you can learn more about the values behind the event. Why are people attending? And when you finally meet someone, find out genuinely what they care about, what their company cares about and stands for. Does this align with your values? Some companies might be interested in developing a sustainable startup. Find out their interest. Share your interest too.

Give, give and give before you receive!

How can you build a sincere connection?

This is the most challenging part because, very often, we want something. But developing a genuine connection becomes joyful when you are at the giving end rather than the receiving end. What is it that you can give? Give, give and give before you receive. And note that you might not always receive from the person you give. You might receive from their friends, their network or a total stranger. Find out what it is that you can also give. Giving must not be in material value or monetary terms. It can be your time, skills, expertise, space and lots. 

I hope you are ready to start networking and building meaningful relationships. After you have completed the template:

  1. Read through it one more time.
  2. Place your template where you will see it regularly to remind you of your intentions, value and commitment.
  3. Do not wait for an invitation to get to a gathering.
  4. Check social media to find events close to you.
  5. Set up your professional profile on Linkedin and join diverse activities you might never have thought of trying out.
  6. Be open to exploring.

That is where you will meet extraordinary people. It is time for you to go out there and develop social capital. 

Get our app, stay in touch, and let us help you develop your Ideas.

We created our tailored all-in-one app to offer up-to-date knowledge, provide exposure for social entrepreneurs and offer coaching services. Get the app (Android version) here. For IOS users, a web app and IOS version are on their way; sign up for our newsletter here to know when it is out and get consistent resources via email. If you need templates to develop your ideas, you can check our Joadre Tools. If you want to contact us, use our contact form or consult us through the app. 

Thank you for reading to the end. 



I am Joana, a Nigerian-born Austrian-based entrepreneur and activist. Founded Joadre in 2012 and continue to develop content to engage and empower African SMEs.

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