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Lagos, with much less sass and style

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Really in the grand scheme of things just how important is your job title? Or the size of your corner suite? That is if, in our age of open plan offices, if you even have. I had the pleasure of attending a few networking events recently. A cliquey town, some very snobbish folk and a business networking occasion do make an unpalatable recipe, I can tell you that much.

When asked about it after, I could only sum up the experience as “Lagos but with much less sass and style.” The kind of bothersome affair when people visibly check your name tag before they deem you important enough to speak to. One chap actually took his reading glasses out to read our name tags before entertaining our company for part of the evening – turns out he was a professional networker.

No one can compete after all with the Najia style of networking with such swag and style that one has not even checked your name but has already filed it in their mental rolodex and snooped your Linkedin profile before they’ve even walked over to you.

As for me, having hung up my four inch cocktail networking party heels and thrown away my business cards a long time ago, I still enjoy the rush of hitting the ring at a networking event and getting to schmooze with as many people as I think will help build new partnerships and networks to help with whatever project I am working on. If you enjoy a spot of competition – even with yourself – there’s always an element of thrill in getting those business cards, making those connections and taking business talks further.

Then there’s equally that part of me that visibly twitches each time I see someone squinting to read a name tag to ascertain whether the person is worth their while or someone – like a woman whom I recently met at an event who claimed to help business clients with marketing for six-figure sums, but couldn’t produce a business card, or a website (apparently she was going through a rebrand herself!), or even a Linkedin account, and offered to add me as a friend on Facebook. Yes, there are the snobs and there are the storytellers.

There are even sad sods apparently who break down halfway through a networking session and tell their ‘captive’ audience they’ve cornered into a hostage situation about their recent relationship breakdown. True story.

Then I think for a minute of Kobe Bryant’s life cut short at just 41, alongside his precious 13-year-old daughter. With all the power, the talent, the money in the world, in the end our days are numbered, and whatever it is that we do, we owe it to ourselves to live life to the full and make it count. When our number’s up, it won’t be our job titles or the size of corner suites that matter – because essentially, they never did anyway. If we could just wake up early enough to realise it.

Perhaps I am one of the lucky ones to have realised it in midlife. That’s why these days I show up at networking events, grab a glass of Prosecco on the way in, thrill seek getting a few business cards, grab a canape or two while I am at it, have a few fun conversations and a few laughs, and get out nice and early to go home to my husband and my dog and the simple pleasure of a life I try to make the most of. Because in the end, they are what truly matters.


In this article:
Sinem Bilen-Onabanjo
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