Hey, readers! Happy new year!☺️
The tittle of this post reminds me of the article I wrote for the Hashnode Dev Retro 2022 campaign. In the article, where I shared my three-year journey in tech, I talked about my lack of ‘connections’ as one of the things that really slowed down my progress and learning.
As a beginner coder, I relied on Sololearn, YouTube tutorial videos, and (at a time) Girls Who Code at Home weekly code projects for my learning.
That was great. Not bad, actually. But what I lacked was community.
We all can agree that in the average classroom, it takes the input from other classmates for there to be actual teaching and learning.
Be honest and admit to yourself that if it wasn’t for the questions, jokes, and random statements from members of your class while learning, you probably wouldn’t have been able to understand most of your lessons.
And that’s exactly what I’m talking about.
Don’t be daunted when I use the word ‘networking’. A better word to use would be ‘community’, and they mean the same thing in this context.
If you want to live your life with purpose and take responsibility for your actions, you need a network, you need to be in a community of people with interests and goals similar to yours.
In a less formal light, it’s simple logic to make friends with people who’ll be beneficial to you. It’s not only about those who’re ‘in your field’, you can as well make friends with people from all walks of life, from different backgrounds, as long as their being part your life will make you a better person.
Now, the question:
How Will I Find that Network?
Honestly, if you asked me how exactly you could find such a community of ‘like-minded people’, I have no proven line of action to give you.
You see, back when I just started out, and had just created a Facebook account, I made endless searches like: Nigerian teen coders, Teen coders, and phrases like that, but all the groups and pages I found were outdated and empty.
In hindsight, I take it that it wasn’t yet the right time for me to stumble across the amazing communities I’m in now, because I wasn’t ready for them.
But with the little experience of mine, I can tell you this:
My best advice on is to begin with making like-minded friends. I use Facebook as an example because it’s my most active social. Make searches on people you already know in your field, and send them friend requests.
And if you don’t have anyone in mind, you can go over to Google and search up things like: Nigerian teen coder 2022, Nigerian programmer 2022, Nigerian teen web developer 2022 (that would be in the case of a techie). You’d be sure to get relevant results.
And once your results are out, you can then hit the socials. It must not be Facebook, as long as you connect with that person: through a follow or a friend request.
And the good thing about social media sites is that from the people you follow or become friends with, you’re given friend, group and page suggestions based on your activity. So it becomes a lot easier to find more people and communities once you reach out.
The perks of making friends with the right kind of people are lot. Here are some benefits, with proof from my personal experiences:
A network keeps you motivated.
I knew this before now, but I’ve just recently been given a reminder. You wouldn’t believe the creative rush I felt when I saw updates from my friends in tech as we entered the new year. And although I was in my village, with my network on EDGE, I found a way to get Internet connection, even if it only came once a day.
My friends, the like-minded peeps I’ve surrounded myself with, motivated me to push limits and start work this year, notwithstanding the serious network problems I faced.
A network keeps growing.
I can’t really remember the first teen techie I followed on Facebook. But since that day, I’ve kept on meeting more and more people. I’ve made REALLY amazing friends in tech, and we’re already making plans to execute projects this year.
In fact, through my Facebook friend, Abigail Johnson, (a fellow girl in tech), I just found out about Princess Mbamalu, who is working with her to build an AI-powered tech innovation.
And I look forward to future interactions with her.
But the other side of this is that YOU have to stay in motion. Don’t fold your arms and deceive yourself by saying you’re satisfied with the friends you have, and the level you’ve gotten to.
Such a mindset is dangerous, because one thing I’ve learned about purposeful people is that they cease to hang around you once you stop being productive.
So, if you really want to grow, you stay productive, keep working at your craft. Once you’re in the right circle of people, it’s only a matter of time before great opportunities come your way.
Every beneficial network influences you positively.
If I hadn’t put the lessons I’d learnt from participating in the CWIN Writing Creativity Challenge into practice, I wouldn’t have developed myself to this point. I wouldn’t have known enough to keep reaching out to like-minded people. I wouldn’t have been enlightened on the importance of making investments for my personal growth.
The major point here is that when you come in contact with the right kind of people, they must SURELY influence you in one way or another.
And it’s not just professionally, in our everyday lives as well.
I take an example from my own life: In my workplace, I’ve met two really amazing women. One of them taught me a lot, actually, about being a young woman of QUALITY and CONFIDENCE; but one of the best things she taught me was that age is just a number, especially where it seems like a factor stopping me from pursuing what I want.
The other amazing woman taught me – although not directly – that your personality is everything. She’s actually a young pastor’s wife, but she’s so cool. Most times, the way she presents God is so refreshing.
I really treasure these women.
The same should be for you.
Points of action.
What kind of an article would this be if there were no in-your-face points of action?
A network, a community of people with goals similar to yours, can only be of benefit to you when you put in your own efforts.
Here they are:
Keep showing up. Keep putting yourself out there.
One of the closest people to me, Franck Mve, is an aspiring footballer – and in recent times, a delver in all things photography. He is known wherever he goes as a football lover, and the best part is that he actually shows his skills whenever and wherever he can.
He’s actually made lots of friends from this, and lots of cool opportunities have come to him.
The moral here is that you should be consistent. Although similar to ‘staying productive’, this is more in-depth in a sense. It’s about getting to work and not stopping. It’s about not just covering yourself up with labels and professional taglines, but rather about working to produce results that will gain you the opportunities you need.
It’s not enough to talk about your ideas, it’s not enough to boast about your skills. The main thing is to NEVER shy away from an avenue to show what you can do.
Don’t live on past glory.
Don’t compare yourself with others.
This, every once in a while, is a big problem, actually. In one of my entries for the CWIN Writing Creativity Challenge, I wrote on this.
Sure, there will ALWAYS be people who’re doing better than you are, no matter their age. Just look at Claire Charles, a 14-year-old Web3 developer. But instead of that to demoralize you, let it motivate you.
In my own case, when I look at my mates like John Oseni, Clinton Imaro, Abigail Johnson, Sumayah Adegbite, and many others making waves in tech, it makes me feel bad that although I’ve been into tech since 2019, I haven’t been consistent enough with it to actually produce much results.
But I soon get over the ‘failure’ feeling, and let their stories inspire and motivate me to keep going – consistently this time.
The same should be for you. The ‘guys on top’ are there to motivate you, so you can push your limits and be better.
Be nice and friendly.
You know, it’s normal for people at a point to no longer listen to others. They become so concerned with their own life’s problems and the work they’re doing that they no longer care so much about what other people are doing.
This problem can rise up in any network, especially one of intentional people.
As a teen blogger, I always love to connect with fellow teen bloggers, especially those who’re Nigerian like me. But many a time, I find myself losing some relationships on this space.
Yes, I sometimes, get so concerned with putting out my own content, growing my blog’s audience, and all other things I have to do professionally that I fail to check out what other bloggers are up to: read their posts, drops some friendly comments, and give a few shares.
What you need to know is that being friendly is important. Underneath the labels and professional taglines, the things that keep MANY influential people going are the shows of care and genuine friendship they receive from friends and family.
I hope I’ve made this three-syllable word, networking, sound a bit more doable, and I hope you get to work on it.🏃🏾♀️
Networking can begin from here, you know! It’d be great to connect with you. Drop me a comment if you have anything to say. And also if you have any pointers for me on getting the most out of Twitter, I just created an account on there in December!🙈
For now, Ọlaedo is on Facebook only. If you’d like to follow the blog there as well, or just check out the page, surf on over here.
Cheers to you living more purposefully. 🥂
Stay motivated, 🔥
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