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Networking 101 – The Importance of Building Relationships

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I am pretty sure that we have all heard the saying “old school ties” or how about ‘the old boys club’?  I know that as a young woman growing up, I was fascinated by this whole concept of the ‘old boys club’ and the power that was generated out of there.  Little did I realize that one day I would have my own ‘old boys club’ but that mine wouldn’t just encompass the male species but the female one too.

For the male species though, networking and the ‘old boys club’ type of scenario is, I think to a large extent, almost instinctive.

I have a young God son, by the name of Bruce.  Bruce is now almost 30 but in his early 20’s he was living and going to Wharton’s Business School in the States, but as usual I have jumped too far ahead – let me go back to the beginning.

Bruce went to junior school at “The Ridge”, which for those of you who don’t know is an exclusive private school here in Johannesburg.  The children of the rich and famous attend this school (not that Bruce’s parents were either rich and/or famous but that is another story for another time).  Bruce, being the likeable child that he was, quickly made friends and pretty soon there was a steady group of youngsters that went everywhere together and did everything together – poor mothers were run ragged as they took turns collecting and delivering a pack of children to the various activities that they engaged in.  Bruce ‘chose’ his friends very wisely – many of them being the sons of prominent business men or powerful politicians and the like.

When it came time to choose a high school, funds were very tight and this would have limited the choice somewhat if it wasn’t for the fact that Bruce is exceptionally bright and he landed a full scholarship to Michaelhouse in the Drakensburg.  Although many of his ‘chosen’ friends were also going to Michaelhouse, Bruce made sure that he did not lose contact with the friends that went to several of the other private schools around, and so he started his ‘old boys club’ type network!

At Michaelhouse, he excelled academically, as well as in several of the sports and other activities, managing along the way to get himself into the Choir, that toured Russia and  Estonia as well as getting himself into the Debating Team, where he really excelled getting himself full colours, both provincially and then nationally.  He also managed to get himself on an exchange type program and got to live in Canada for 3 months at an exclusive school there.  Along the way he made friends, who he has always stayed in touch with.

Come time for his tertiary education, he requested and was given a full bursary to Wharton’s Business school in Philly – for those of you who don’t know this school – it was originally started by Abraham Lincoln and it is generally recognized as one of the best Business Schools in the world.  Here too Bruce has been making friends with kids from all over the world.  Kids who have extremely wealthy and well connected parents.  He has still not lost touch with all of those that he met along the way.

Ok, so by now you are wondering why I am telling you all of this – I mean, why would you be interested in hearing me waffle on about my Godson Bruce?

So here’s the deal – Bruce is being invited to cocktail parties and homes and offices of some of the most influential people in the world.  He is being invited to work, during the holidays, at places like The World Bank, the New York Stock Exchange and the like, by the father’s and mother’s of the kids that he has met and befriended.  In view of the fact that he has chosen, and is extremely passionate about the world of finance, this doesn’t hurt at all!

You see Bruce, from the time that he was a littlie, somehow knew how important it is to develop relationships and network those relationships, in order to get them to work for him and his desires.

Today he is one of the most well connected young men that I know, and I know for sure that he is going places.

So what about you – what kind of network do you have and do you ‘work it’ on a regular basis?

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