When I gained admission into the university, my cousin who had just graduated from the same university and was doing his final clearance had a pep talk with me. He told me something which made little or no sense then but now makes a lot of sense to me and has been my guiding principle ever since. He pointed at different groups of students who were either walking past us or just sitting and discussing. He said, “among these students are governors, presidents, ministers, commissioners, clergymen, top civil servants and a lot of others.” He said what I will become depends not only on my academic performance, hard work or my character but also on my relationship with these people. He rounded up by saying one of the greatest assets a man can have is his contacts.
I have an uncle whom when anyone needed a favor or something to be done would always call upon. He seemed to have a good solution to every problem and somebody for every issue. Not because he is a genius or a wealthy man but because of who he knew, his contacts. He did not just keep friends but always kept in touch with friends, associates and acquaintances. He never wrote anyone off. It is rare for you to call me and ask about anything and I would not know who to call or refer you to. It is not because I am influential or wealthy rather it is because I do not joke with contacts. I keep contacts even of people I have not seen for the past ten years.
As an entrepreneur, it is important that you manage your contacts efficiently and occasionally keep in touch. You can get business ideas from socializing, you can get that big contract from a random contact, you can get access to do a presentation to the minister through that your former classmate way back from primary school.
It takes a sound mind to know who will be relevant in the nearest future and align with such people but this does not mean you should write-off anybody. Even the least intelligent in the class sometimes end up as the most successful in the society. As an entrepreneur that has a business idea, it is important you discuss your plans with people who in most cases are familiar people because it is from such discussions that your ideas could be expanded, improved upon and financing could be sourced. It is this same people who will either buy into your idea or fund your project. A total stranger will never give you a listening ear. A tree cannot and will never make a forest. Take a look at most big corporations, the founders did not build them alone but had people who keyed into their ideas and made it a success story.
I make sure that any time I switch phones, my contacts are always my priority and I ensure I do a backup and a careful transfer of the contacts to the new phone. Things have become a lot easier with a lot of back-up apps and websites which will be discussed in later articles on this space.
Some of the ways of building up your contacts includes the following but not limited to them:
- Membership of social groups: As a member of some groups/organisations, you get to meet some like minds with whom you can share ideas while you play and socialize. Examples of social groups include friends associations, sporting clubs, etc.
- Membership of professional bodies: Professional bodies are most times compulsory for certain professions but in a situation where you do not fall into this category, it is necessary you belong and identify with professionals who share same passion and profession with you.
- Trade Union: Belonging to trade unions is yet another avenue to build up a quality contact list.
- Be an extrovert: Do not be shy, open up and free yourself. Get close to as many people as you come across
- Be a socialite: all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Dust up your dancing shoes, it will not do you any harm to shake up your bones in a rhythmic pattern once in a while. Parties are another avenue through which you can build up your contacts.
- Social Media: Do I need to include this? I am involved in this project as a result of my social media interaction.
- Membership of sociocultural groups: there are lots of sociocultural groups that afford one the opportunity of learning and as well interacting even as a student.
- Membership of religious bodies: meeting people through religious interactions is another beautiful way of building a quality contact list.
Every contact lost is a potential opportunity lost. There are times when you need even the street tout (agbero) in your neighborhood for one issue or the other. Everybody you have met is a potential business partner. Some people have that great business idea that can change your fortune. That idea may not necessarily be yours and that fantastic idea of yours may not necessarily be implemented by you alone. You may not have the capacity to give life to it. Angels will not fall from heaven to give the magic touch, it is the people you know and those around you that will do the magic. Open your eyes and begin to identify the business partners, presidents, governors, presidents and vice-presidents of corporations, top civil servants and others you think you may need in your journey of life.
Tip: Some people are contacts (wo)men and they do this for a living. Consultants and Lobbyists. Ponder on these words.