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Ife Tokan: 5 Steps To Becoming An Effective Networker



Why is networking so important? The simple answer is that as natural social beings, we need people.
From an entrepreneur’s perspective, everyone you meet can be useful to you in three ways 1) they could be a potential customer, 2) they could be a potential business partner and 3) they could know someone you need to know to take your business to the next level.
I recently got a job offer in Management Consulting at Atkins and this was due to a referral and support from an old friend I reconnected with at another friend’s birthday brunch. I asked her what she was doing with her life to start the conversation and the rest is history.

What is networking? Networking is simply building a relationship I personally think of networking as the same way of dating. Usually the more time you invest in your relationship the stronger the relationship and the longer it will be. Below are steps to becoming an effective networker.

Step 1: Be confident and be prepared, always have two or three open ended question to ask “What key skills have you developed working in your role in the last 2 years”. The beauty of networking is that you meet someone new, someone who doesn’t know you therefore you can be who ever you want to be, who you were or what you did before doesn’t matter (TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS).

Step 2: Listen, Nod and Smile. Always take an interest in what the other person is saying. This is not only important to hold the conversation but it is also very important because you need the information you speak about to use as a follow up in the communication via email.

Step 3: This brings me nicely to my next point, Connect. Ask for a business card and follow up. This is an area where most people fail (even myself). I suggest follow up should be within three days in order to ensure the relationship built initially, doesn’t get cold.

Step 4: Your personal brand (second impression is as important as first impression). When I go to events and meet people I always Google or LinkedIn them to get a better understanding and to verify who they are. Ensure your Facebook is on private if there are inappropriate pictures of you there. Ensure your achievements are updated on LinkedIn and you have a suitable picture that reflects your profession.

Step 5: Make a constant effort to keep in touch with your new contact. It is very easy to contact your new contact when you need help however a true networker will always touch base every now and again. This is very hard to do especially when your new contact is a senior executive, from my experience always do research on what your contact is interested in. Nowadays most senior executive would have written or blogged about an issue in their industry of expertise (Google is your friend) this could be a good way to spark up conversation with your contact for example, “I read the article you wrote yesterday I found it very interesting but how about the issue of XYZ, how those affect your industry”.

Networking skill is like a muscle the more you work on it the stronger it becomes and the more confident you are at using it. Finally never underestimate anyone you meet, I have met some destiny connector at the most random places.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Michael Zhang

"Ife was listed in the Top 100 Outstanding Graduates by the Future Leaders Magazine, UK. He has interned in top global brands like Accenture, PwC and Deloitte. He is a big believer in giving back to the community through any capacity possible. He describes himself in three words: Purposeful, Passionate and Proactive. Ife loves building and mentoring future leaders." Twitter: ife_tokan LinkedIn Ife Ade Tokan


  1. Mz_daniels

    May 29, 2015 at 11:14 am


    Just wanted to point out, it is easier for the successful to be kinder to those who met them on their journey. E.g, if I’m president, my ex school mate can easily get my attention.

    To network nicely, be kind to all, treat people with utmost respect. These complimentary cards, follow ups etc., the wealthy are used to that. Just love and respect yourself, carry yourself with an aura of dignity and treat people with such dignity. You’d be surprised the guy on the tee you met at the supermarket is Buharis son

    E.g, a friend of mind met the owner of a major oh and gas firm in Cameroun at the Airport and it wasn’t at the first class lounge, she asked him for help nicely, they got chatty and have been friends since. Okay maybe the fact that she was a fine girl helped

  2. @edDREAMZ

    May 29, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    a.k.a EDWIN CHINEDU AZUBUKO said..
    Thats nice….

  3. TBB

    May 29, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    Good One.

    And I agree with Mz_Daniel, i go by the mantra, treat everyone right because you just might never know………

  4. Jo!

    May 29, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    “What key skills have you developed working in your role in the last 2 years”. I wouldn’t advise this in the real world, much too stiff, for lack of a better word, it’s not an interview, its a conversation, so keep it easy and friendly. So you may ask this question as ” what have you enjoyed doing most in your current role”, get creative with it, again, it’s a conversation, not an interview, so you want people to connect with you, not wonder who this stick-up a** is.
    If someone walks up to me at a networking event and asks “what key skills…” Looool, I think I’d laugh, except it’s a job fair, or an actual recruiting event,, but if it’s a regular networking event, I’d just be irritated

    • Jo!

      May 29, 2015 at 2:38 pm

      *stuck up

  5. dobzi

    May 29, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    Great tips…..noted

  6. chukwukadibia

    May 29, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    What the way forward for a timid person?

    • SdoT

      June 5, 2015 at 4:51 pm

      First, love yourself.
      Then, check your persona. Dnt force yourself to be open, if it doesn’t suit your persona. Just be confident at all time.
      I also suggest you look and smell nice.

  7. Ouch!

    May 30, 2015 at 10:56 am

    Very nice! I love meeting people but most times people I meet tend to look up to me, funny though! How can I really meet people that will challenge me and make me come out of my comfort zone? I guess my location is what makes it look as if I’m always meeting “the wrong” people. People always tell me I’m smart and intelligent yet I can’t get a well paid job with all these “smartness”. I feel I’m wasting and I’m so afraid when I look at my two children. My thought has always been ” how can I take care of these adorables and give them the best education with the peanut I’m earning”? This thought gives me the greatest fear of my life.

  8. Afua

    May 30, 2015 at 4:49 pm

    I can completely relate to @Ouch! I hear it all the time how smart I am but I can’t seem to get a career starter job to save my life. Its starting to get to the point where I’m wondering if I’ll ever get that career starter job. Its been five years since I graduated..

  9. Anonymous

    June 3, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    Nice one

  10. shoutoutmarketing

    June 12, 2015 at 10:57 am


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