Career Tips

The World Bank in conjunction with the United Nations held a number of different events in various countries around the world on October 17 to mark the International Day for Eradication of Poverty, 2018. These include an inspiring in-country dialogue session and interactive video conference on the theme “Africa’s Youth and the Future of Work”.

Although different speakers pivoted on the value of soft skills in today’s workforce during both the in-country and video conference event, the questions of some of the participants at the Accra event show that a number of people are not particularly sure about what constitutes soft skills and how to develop them.

Of course, the panelists, as well as myself, gave further useful interventions on what soft skills are and the need to cultivate them as a student or job seeker. However, after speaking with one accounting student that approached me after the session, I made a mental note to share further thoughts on this subject. In this article, you will learn what soft skills are, why they are becoming increasingly important, and how to essentially develop them.

So, let’s take a deep dive –

What are Soft Skills?

I think that the best way to understand soft skills is by understanding hard skills. It is generally accepted that hard skills are what you learned or studied in school that can be defined and quantified on paper. Specifically, they are competencies like an ability to use software tools, writing, doing accounting and so on.

On the flip side, soft skills are those abstract, intangible skills that are difficult to quantify and are not usually taught in the classroom. They are skills we use in navigating everyday life and making human connections. Soft skills are often referred to as transferable skills or professional skills.

From data collected in over two years of our methodological research in making sense of the persistent disconnect between education and industry requirements, below are three main sets of skills employers categorize as soft skills:

  • People Skills – this includes teamwork, interpersonal skills, communication, leadership, and customer orientation.
  • Self Reliance Skills – this includes self-awareness, proactivity, willingness to learn, self-promotion, networking and planning action.
  • Life Skills – this includes problem-solving, flexibility, business acumen, critical thinking, and commitment.

The importance of soft skills in today’s competitive, fast-paced, digital work environment cannot be overemphasized. The more intelligent technologies continue to redefine our workplace, the more human cognitive skills are sought after.

In fact, soft skills are becoming today’s hard skills. You can be the world’s best software engineer or accountant but if you don’t know how to work with people; if you cannot communicate your thoughts clearly; if you cannot deconstruct complexities and proffer simple solutions, you will not be of much use to anyone.

Candidates that demonstrate these competencies will always be farther ahead in the workplace. Academic qualifications obviously have their place; they open doors but soft skills are what keeps you on the job.

How do you develop soft skills?

There are many activities that can help you cultivate soft skills. Programs like SFAN’s Readyforwork Career Coaching Program are super important in developing your soft skills. Through personalized educational contents crafted by employers, one-on-one coaching, and team conversations, participants are equipped with practical skills and exposed to real-world projects that empower them to take ownership of their career aspirations and grow in confidence that yields success.

Also, engaging in community service and volunteer programs are crucial ways of improving your soft skills. They help you generate goodwill that comes from teamwork and collaboration. Volunteering is also a great way to sharpen your leadership skills, networking skills, and problem-solving skills.

Furthermore, participating in group discussions, events and social networking can be another way of developing your soft skills. Learn to speak up whenever you have the opportunity and get comfortable standing in front of people. If you are afraid of public speaking, well my friend, you’re not alone – 41% of people across cultures around the world are terrified about public speaking. The vital thing to note is that public speaking is not a performance but a conversation from your heart.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my career is that nothing is a given. Things change fast and knowing how to think on your feet is a skill that’ll take you places. I can write about this in two books because of its importance in the workplace today. Train yourself to be a problem solver. The most uninspiring thing you can do is to be the girl or boy that always go to your boss or team leader with problems. Everyone sees problems but not everyone sees solutions. Hence, before you point out a problem, have a solution on hand. It will set you apart from others.

Conclusion

The good news is that all these soft skills are learnable. With careful observation and practice, you can improve on each and every one of them. The most interesting thing about human being is that nobody is born smart – we all start at zero. Believe it or not, there was a time when Einstein couldn’t do his ABCs. Chimamanda Adichie definitely didn’t start her career as a great communicator. Neither was Barack Obama a remarkable leader as a teenager. They all learned and practiced these crafts until they perfected it. Now that you know the traits you should cultivate for the future of work, you too can do the same! Sign up here to receive more tools for career development and to be in the know about our epic events and training programs.


About the Author

Tom-Chris | #Readyforwork

Tom-Chris Emewulu is the President & Founder of SFAN. He is an education enthusiast, entrepreneurship and career coach, a consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana and an aspiring venture capitalist. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Everybody knows that getting a rejection email for a job application really sucks. But in reality, about 98% of job seekers are eliminated at the initial resume screening. Only 2% of job candidates make it to an interview.

Unfortunately, recruiters don’t usually give candidates an absolute, meaningful feedback on why they were rejected. To help you catch the “bullseye” of employers, I started sharing the rookie mistakes I see job seekers make time and time again.

This series started with an insight into the Biggest Job Application Mistakes You Must Avoid at All Costs, followed by 5 Distinguishing Traits Employers look for in a Prospective New Hire. In this concluding part, we shall review 6 cardinal red flags recruiters look out for in a job candidate. If you are currently looking for a job, well my friend, it is your lucky day! I am about to show you the cheat sheet hiring managers use for recruiting. 

The 6 candidate red flags

  • Inconsistencies and Lies

The first red flag for a hiring manager is a discrepancy in a candidate’s resume. This could be in the form of regular gaps in employment history, lies about past employers or an embellished job title.

In today’s competitive job market, it might be incredibly tempting to embellish your resume. If this is you, think again! Any form of lying on your resume will definitely come back to bite you. When a recruiter determines there is a discrepancy in your copy (whether online or offline), that’s game over.

The worst-case scenario is when you pulled a “Mike Ross” and eventually get the job. The day the truth materializes, the public humiliation will paint a black shade over your career prospects, permanently.

Nevertheless, if the discrepancy is in the form of employment gaps, the solution may be in adjusting your resume. Use your summary statement to level with any inconsistency the hiring manager might pick up on. Be sure to keep your copy within 100 words.

  • Job Hopping

Profiles that show frequent job hopping is a big red flag. In fact, talent professionals argue that resumes filled with short-term gigs indicate the candidate lacks commitment, is poor at building relationships or burns out quickly.

The recruitment process is often time-consuming and expensive. And so, losing an employee after a year means wasting precious time and resources on training and development, only to lose the employee before that investment pays off. Plus, many recruiters may assume the employee didn’t have time to learn much at a one-year job, says Jeanne Meister, HR Partner, Future Workplace.

Historically, there are few available data on how long an average worker should stay in a job in Africa. Nevertheless, career experts recommend that in an ideal case, you should try to stay at each job for a minimum of two years.

In the words of Amanda Augustine, a career advice expert for TopResume, no matter how badly you want to leave your job or move onto something bigger and better, you don’t want to be branded a serial job-hopper.

That said, if you are faced with the job-hopping or employment gap dilemma, use the functional resume strategy to put a positive spin on your copy. Optimize your template to focus your on your skills, what you have achieved and your abilities rather than time spent in or out of jobs.

  • A lack of professionalism online

According to Recruiterbox, 43% of employers use social networking sites to research job candidate. Also, 51% of employers who check a candidate’s social media profiles have found content that disqualifies a candidate. In fact, this survey found that 70% of employers use social media to look for red flags on a candidate.

Here are four things your online presence show hiring managers:
1. Stats and results – factual data referencing accomplishments like growth percentages or direct bookings
2. Attention to detail and seriousness – A complete LinkedIn profile shows that the candidate is a detail-oriented and serious job seeker
3. Recommendations from former employers and peers – research shows that the inclusion of testimonials may share more about a candidate’s performance and personality.
4. Community involvement – Participating actively in online groups or volunteering suggests that a candidate has more interest and solid connections with a particular industry or community.

With this understanding, you need to be circumspect with your online interactions. Your digital footprint provides deep insight into who you are, what you care about and what you bring to the table. Consequently, any serious-minded job seeker will do the legwork of putting a good front on his or her digital platforms.

Use the tips in this article to adjust your digital presence, create a compelling value proposition, and move your career prospects further, faster.

  • Ambiguous language

It is common knowledge among recruiters (and supported by research) that you can evaluate the potential performance of candidates based on their speech. Majority of recruiters listen/look out for the following magic, or the lack thereof when evaluating candidates:

  1. Pronoun: “I” and “me” – studies show that low and average performers use about 400%
    more second-person pronouns like you, your and about 90% more third-person pronouns like he, she, they than high performers.
  2. Tense: workplace experience stories told in the past tense – studies show that low and average performers use the present tense 120% more and the future tense 70% more.
  3. Voice: usage of active voice – studies show that low and average performers often use the passive voice 40%–50% more than high performers.

The use of vague languages, such as “familiar with” or “participated in,” could imply the candidate didn’t actually work on the project or they simply assisted in some way, courtesy to a LinkedIn research.

Here are 36 words and phrases you should never include on your résumé.

  • Unprofessional profile photo

There’s an old and probably overused saying among marketers which is that people hear what they see. Inappropriate and unprofessional photos on your social media touchpoints can raise a red flag to recruiters.  They often portray you in an unprofessional light.

So, before you share your next twerk video or Instagram photo with your boobs up in the air, your pants sagging or your drunken eyes looking at the world like “Klint Da Drunk” think of the potential career limiting implications of such graphics.

A job seeker is far more likely to make an impression with employers if she or he has a professional, high-quality photo. The solution is simple: Get dressed up and hire a good photographer, says Ismael Wrixen, CEO, FE International.

Whatever it takes typography on black felt board frame on white wall

  • Mistakes and typos

In my journey to find the top 10% of entry-level job seekers and match them to jobs that have prospects for career progression, personal development, and economic prosperity, I have read thousands of resumes. I have seen the good, the bad and the very ugly ones.

A CareerBuilder survey found that 58% of all resumes have a typo of some form. Resumes with grammatical errors, spelling mistakes or poor formatting indicate that you lack attention to details. While some people may want to argue that it is human to make mistakes, many hiring managers have a very strong opinion about this matter; almost to the point, and often to the point that one single typo is an automatic veto.

Why? Because how you do anything is how you do everything, the logic goes: if a candidate does not pay attention in getting his or her tenses right, where else will he or she show the same lack of discipline?

Yet, attention to detail is one of the all-time proxies for job qualification many of us highlight in our resumes. Therefore, if you have the audacity to tell the recruiter that you are “an excellent communicator with great attention to detail,” then you better bring it. Quite frankly, if you don’t, well, it’s your fault for being so sloppy and careless–sorry!

To avoid shooting yourself in the foot before you even start competing for the hiring manager’s attention, please use a grammar checker like Grammarly to proofread your stuff and make necessary adjustments. 

Conclusion

There you have it – from pre-screen to post-hire, the knowledge of what hiring managers look for and what they avoid in a candidate is now at your disposal. As the job market becomes increasingly tighter and recruiters continually look for smarter and more sophisticated candidates, the least you can do is to prop yourself up with all the secrets I’ve shared with you in this article. Observe them, commit them to memory and when you have scaled through the process, remember to pay it forward.

Have other tips you noticed? Drop them in comments.


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There are certain traits that make you successful in a job.

In my previous article, I shared some insights on 6 biggest job application mistakes you must avoid at all costs. A gentleman reached out to me after reading the article to ask if I could write a follow-up piece on what employers look for when hiring.

I have had the pleasure of participating in numerous recruitment exercises both through personal engagements with institutions like President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) West Africa (as a consultant responsible for assessing and interviewing applicants from 9 YALI West African countries including training a team of local and international assessors and interviewers) and through SFAN’s job placement initiatives.

Regardless of size, industry or legal structure, the five traits below are distinguishing traits many employers look for in a prospective new hire.

  • Smartness – clever, witty, or readily effective attitude

Whenever we sit down with a client for a briefing, this is one of the traits mentioned again and again as the first thing they want from a new hire. The reason is simple — employers want someone who can get the job done. In this era of accelerated change, overwhelming complexity and uncertain work environment, very few employers have enough time to teach a candidate everything he or she needs to know. Click To TweetIt’s no longer enough to focus on the job description, you need an experience and mastery of other transferable skills like social media, communication, email, etc. Therefore, your ability to demonstrate both industry competence and related functional leadership will set you apart.

  • Passion – strong and barely controllable desire

The business world is getting increasingly fierce, thanks to technology and competition. A passion for your work helps you maintain the level of focus and commitment required to survive and thrive. Consequently, recruiting managers are keen to find candidates who can progressively demonstrate dedication and commitment to their job. When someone cares about the job, he or she can go the extra mile in delivering above and beyond expected results — not just doing the barest minimum that earns him/her a paycheck. A candidate with passion adds great value to the company.

And, it is easy to tell whether a person is passionate or not. One meeting or interview with a candidate is enough to tell you whether he or she is passionate. I have seen that candidates that approach an interview with enthusiasm and have concrete goals for their career, a self-development plan, and are able to articulate their thoughts usually perform well on the job. As any recruiter will tell you, self-motivated candidates are like flickers of light; they help others find direction.

  • Kindness – the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate

We live in a world where everyone does not have the same starting point. Therefore, you must be compassionate and considerate in how you treat yourself and other people.

We have all heard of the power of little acts of kindness. A prominent example is the incident of August 2016 Olympics Games in Rio De Janeiro. Nikki Hamblin and Abbey D’Agostino where four laps from finishing the 5000m race when they tripped and fell. The American athlete, Abbey D’Agostino got up first but instead of continuing running, she pulled up her opponent and said, “get up, we have to finish this!” Unfortunately, shortly after that, her knee gave out; she had injured her right leg in the fall. D’Agostino was on all fours on the Olympic track, her face writ in pain.

Realizing what had happened, Hamblin stopped running and reached back for her. They continued to run side-by-side in the bottom spot until they finished the race. These women have never met each other before.

Although this might be an exceptional case, we encounter issues and situations in the workplace every day that one may be tempted to look the other way. However, one act of compassion may be all you need to make a lasting difference. And, it starts with being gentle to yourself because if you are not kind to you, you cannot be kind to anyone else.

  • Hustle – grit, a trait of perseverance

Angela Duckworth is an American psychologist and researcher. As part of her work, she spent years researching traits that make a person successful or not. From Westpoint Military Academy to National Spelling Bee to Private Sales Enterprises to Hollywood, one significant characteristic she learned as a distinguishing factor for success is a simple word, grit.

Grit, as she defines it is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals; stamina, ability to stick with your future day-in-day-out, and working hard to make that a reality. Grit is living life like a marathon, not a sprint.

Our era of instagramification has led many to believe that success (in jobs and life) can be automated like social media posts and grocery orders. But then you study highly successful people and you realize that to be successful at anything you do requires a mind-blowing work ethic. Candidates that demonstrate the ability to hustle and reach for their goals will always outshine others who want things to happen by autopilot.

Research has proven that talent alone does not make a person great; the world is filled with talented failures.

Carol Dweck, the Professor of Psychology at Stanford University popularised the idea of Growth Mindset through her book “Growth Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”. It says that the ability to learn is not fixed, it can be learned. In other words, failure is not a permanent condition, it can change with efforts.

The stick-ability in chasing your goals, exploring your potentials and continually learning, adapting, and evolving is more important in the workplace today than any and everything else you can think of. Click To Tweet
  • Integrity – the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles

Being dependable and trustworthy one of the most important traits in the workplace. It fosters a great work environment.

No one wants to deal with someone or a company that says one thing but goes on to do an entirely different thing. We all want someone that can follow through, take responsibility for their actions and execute on commitments.

Strive Masiyiwa is the billionaire founder of Econet Wireless. His teachings are filled with stories taken from his own experience in which he steadfastly refused to compromise his principles. Masiyiwa says that integrity is one of the major reasons for his success in life and business: “In my 30 years running a business (remember I started in 1986),” he wrote,” I’ve met and known some highly gifted entrepreneurs who looked ready to set the whole world ablaze, but after a few years, some of them failed spectacularly. Whenever I looked back on what had happened… more often than not, it was an issue of integrity.”

No matter how much success a person accumulates by compromising or cheating, it will eventually fizzle away. Every culture and belief show there are no shortcuts to success. It may be painful to maintain your honest stance but in the long run, it will pay off.

In the words of Brian Tracy, self-development trainer and coach,  “there should be no exceptions to honesty and integrity. Integrity is a state of mind and is not situational. If you compromise your integrity in small situations with little consequence, then it becomes very easy to compromise on the big situations.”

Have other traits you noticed? Drop them in comments.


If you like this article, check out this one on how to make the best of your internship. Need help finding your perfect job, reach out to us via info@sfanonline.org. Get our bi-weekly email of inspiration, career and business insights. Subscribe here

It can be frustrating when you send in your application for a job opening but do not receive a response from the hiring manager. Apart from the fact that the job market is competitive as ever, the reason you are not hearing back from hiring managers may be some of these limiting job application mistakes I am about to share with you.

One thing many job applicants do not take into serious consideration is that their application is the first point of contact with the company they are applying to — it is an opportunity to slingshot your copy into the hiring manager’s shortlist. Therefore, you must do everything necessary to grab that opportunity and make the employer go wild over your copy!

From an experience of reviewing numerous applications within the past two years, the following are some of the biggest mistakes people commit while applying for jobs.

1. Not following the application procedure and poor email etiquettes

Here is the rule of thumb you should bear in mind when applying for any job: every company has a recruitment process that prospective employees are required to follow. For the most part, it is usually simple and will be communicated in the application form. You will do yourself great service if you follow whatever procedure is required of you.

If the job application is via an email, ensure you add a heading to your email. Because emails can contain viruses and irrelevant information, email headings are how busy people decide whether to open it or not. Also, I think it is generally unprofessional to send an email without a heading. For employers, how you do anything is how you do everything. If you cannot add a subject line to a mail that announces your first contact with the company, how likely is it that you will do any different when you are hired?

Experts have said that a good job application subject line should 1) be professional, 2) be relevant, 3) contain the job title you are applying to, and 4) be short and straight to the point.

Here is an example of a good job application subject line: Administrative Assistant Job – Edith S. Boakye.

Furthermore, your email address should reflect the professionalism you seek to portray. Emails such as sexybaby123@gmail.com is a turn off for many hiring managers. A better and more professional email address would be edith.boakye@gmail.com. Some recruiters recommend that you set up a separate email account for job-related purposes.

Finally, ensure to keep your email content as brief as possible. Errors in grammar and spelling will be the first thing that will catch the employer’s attention. So, do yourself a favor and spell-check it before clicking send.

2. Sending a poorly written resume

One major deal breaker in a job application process happens over the resume. Regardless of size or industry, this study suggests that many recruiters, hiring managers and human resource professionals are still utilizing resumes as the basis for great first impression in a recruitment process.

In a recent survey of over 300 hiring managers, Top Resume reveals that the followings are the biggest resume deal breakers candidates should avoid:

  1. Spelling and/or grammatical errors
  2. Incorrect or missing contact information
  3. Unprofessional email address
  4. Outdated or irrelevant information (hobbies, age, marital status)
  5. Failure to demonstrate and quantify results
  6. Annoying buzzwords and/or obvious keyword stuffing
  7. Too generalized/not customized to match job listing
  8. Repetitive words or phrases used in multiple job descriptions
  9. Including a headshot (the photo may be distracting or unprofessional)
  10. Format and/or design is too elaborate (a one-page resume is more ideal for most resumes)

3. Not adding a good cover letter

One of the most important tools in your job application arsenal is a cover letter. If it is true that a resume is like an appetizer to a hiring manager, then the cover letter is like the main ditch for determining if the candidate will proceed to the next stage of the recruitment process (in some instances, the reverse may be the case).

A cover letter allows you to target the recruiter and job in a more direct manner; highlighting your skills in a way your resume cannot. Click To Tweet It is also your sales copy to show the employer why the job is of interest to you and why you’re the one he or she must hire.

Therefore, ensure to put some thought into crafting this real estate. Be diligent in your research of the company; understand whom to address your copy to and skillfully highlight the keywords that are relevant to the job while demonstrating that your personality fits the organization’s culture – that is if it actually does.

Lastly, keep in mind that with an increasing number of software tools being utilized to navigate through a stockpile of applications, the cover letter is usually the first thing the hiring manager will see, especially as the pile minimizes to ideal candidates.

4. Not knowing the company you’re applying to

You’ve read the job application and you’ve made your resume waterproof. Now, you just want to quickly send in your resume so it can be the first thing the recruiter will see. While it can be useful to send your resume as early as possible, you miss a great opportunity if you do not research the company you’re applying to work for.

As any recruiter will tell you, there is nothing as frustrating as calling a candidate for an interview only to find out that he or she does not know anything about the company’s business.

For starters, researching the company will help you tailor your cover letter as explained above. It also helps you connect with people that already work there and gives you the chance to determine if the company is headed in the direction you want to go.

5. Not keeping a good social media presence

Here’s another secret for job seekers: most hiring managers will check out a candidate’s social media presence before making a job offer. In this digital age, the first thing most recruiters do before contacting you is to Google your name (your LinkedIn profile is usually their first destination), and if you have not kept a good social media presence, you will be at a loss. 

For a technical role as a web or software developer, I will want to see some repository on Github or websites you’ve built.

No company will hire someone that is perceived as a reputation hazard. Hence, endeavor to keep your profiles as professional as you can get and watch your comments and posts. It is easy to get entangled in a “flame of wars” that means nothing to you but might matter very much to your prospective employer. More so, be careful that you don’t vent your frustrations about brands or people online — you never know where your next job may be coming from.

This article has further recommendations from recruiters on how to keep a great social media presence when looking for a job.

6. Lying in your application

One major reason a resume is not an objective source of information for a recruitment decision is that many applicants lie on their resumes. Consequently, employers are devising numerous strategies to catch those who tell a fib through various online and backdoor reference checks.

If a recruiter determines that a candidate lied in his or her application, the candidate has marked ATS and that will be the end of that candidate’s chance of ever getting a job in that company.

Another reason it is inadvisable to lie in your application is that even if you don’t get caught in the recruitment process, it will eventually come up at some point. When that happens, you will not get away with it. Experts recommend that “by making friends with employees on networking sites like LinkedIn, job seekers can demonstrate how their personalities and aptitude are a match for the employer and this makes not having an exact match inexperience less of an issue”.

Twitter can also be a good place to network with prospective employers. Use these tips to network like a pro.

Conclusion

The job search process can be extremely overwhelming and tedious. But, when you finally find that opening that matches your qualification or can be a great stepping stone to your career goals, you want to ensure that you put in the efforts by making your application irresistible to the hiring manager. In the words of Vince Lombardi, the price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.

Have other job application mistakes you noticed? Drop them in comments.


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Image: Cytonn on Unsplash

It used to be when you want to connect with people you don’t have access to, you look for someone to introduce you to them. But with tools like Twitter, connecting with anyone and everyone is one direct message (DM) or mention away.

Although many pundits are writing Twitter obituaries with #RIPTwitter, the numbers tell a different story. With about 328 million monthly users, Twitter is an incredible resource for personal branding and making vital connections.

If you are a job seeker, Twitter can help you discover great companies and people who work in them.

More so, Twitter helps you amplify your voice. A recent, notable example is the story of this Ghanaian teacher who educates his students on computer technology without any computers. The image of him using a blackboard with a diagram of Microsoft Word drawn upon it became an immediate sensation on Twitter. It took just one tweet from The Queen of African Tech, a nickname for Rebecca Enonchong of AppsTech, for Microsoft to commit to supporting him and his school.

So, how can you catch in on this whirlpool of resource to make your career move?

Below are actionable insights on how to build an image that gets you hired.

Tweet Your Way to the Boardroom: Simple Hacks for Personal Branding on Twitter

#1: Role model the pros

The first step to mastering this nirvana is to understand how it works. Like many things in life, observation is key to learning the in-game of Twitter. Therefore, connect with the pros and learn what they do.

Seriously, do not send any tweets until you have mastered how to weave up smart and crafty tweets that get attention. Sharing loose and random thoughts might hurt your career in the future because recruiters will always look you up when you apply for jobs.

The beauty of Twitter is that one connection can lead you to a whole new community. Use tools like MentionmappTwitalyzer, and HootSuite to easily plot a savvy graph of influencers, professionals, and companies to follow. It’s important that you follow companies you hope to work with.

#2: Define your identity

When it comes to personal branding, identity is everything. That begins with your username, keep it professional.

Choose one to three subjects that interest you and build your equity around those subjects. If it is true that you are what you eat, it is equally true that you are what you tweet.

Make it easy for anyone that visits your profile to clearly see your achievements and focus.

You cannot be everything to everyone, but you could be something to everyone. 

Select a profile cover that reflects your purpose, use a profile picture that looks the part of the persona you’re building and make your bio a marketing tool to highlight what you have achieved and what you care about.

The chief evangelist of Canva, Guy Kawasaki, is very popular of social media and his rule of thumb is to always have a professional business attire photo of just your face for profile pictures.

His Twitter bio starts with a mantra that reads: I empower people.

Guy Kawasaki (@GuyKawasaki) _ Twitter - Google Chrome 04_03_2018 05_22_20

#3: Find your rhythm

When you have fine-tuned your gig to highlight your vision and interests, the next step is to find your rhythm.

Decide the tone and voice of your tweet and when/how often you want to communicate with your followers.

Gather Content defines the two concepts as follows:

Voice: your brand personality described in an adjective. For instance, brands can be lively, positive, cynical, or professional.

Tone: a subset of your brand’s voice. Tone adds a specific flavor to your voice based on factors like audience, situation, and channel.

The Director of Marketing at Buffer, Kevan Lee, takes it a step further in this article. Essentially, he says, there is one voice for your brand and many tones that refine that voice. Voice is a mission statement, tone is the application of that mission.

As much as your aim is to remain visible to recruiters, being circumspect with what you tweet and when you tweet is needful. Products like bitly provide valuable data that helps you gauge the reactions on your tweet and measure the peak times to tweet.

Give your tweet an opportunity of being retweeted by tweeting when your followers are online.

Furthermore, pay attention to your language and tweet structure. Don’t always use all the 240 characters. Experts say around 100 characters is the sweet spot.

When you have chosen a language structure, try to keep it up. The idea is to be professional while being as real as possible.

#4: Share valuable content

As marketers will say, content is still king. Therefore, focus on providing insights, valuable tips, and useful resources.

You don’t have to be an expert to do this – the internet is filled with resources you can share. Do not repurpose another person’s content without attribution. You will lose credibility if you plagiarised.

Also, you can start your own blog and share your perspectives with your network. If you make your handle a go-to resource for useful tools, people will respond equally.

Twitter is great for amplifying your messages through retweets. If you need help with this amplification, search for viral words and phrases that you can include in your content to boost its visibility.

Screen-shot-2014-03-13-at-2.31.49-PM Screen-shot-2014-03-13-at-2.32.03-PM

Remember, whatever you tweet will show up on someone’s timeline, so think of how they read your contents.

P.S. Before you retweet or share a post, it’s always advisable that you read it to avoid sharing contents that are not in line with your brand image. Also, use hashtags sparingly.

Use Google Link Shortener or bitly to shorten links. And add an image to your tweets as it improves your chances of getting retweets (Locate a website for free stock images and other tools in this post.)

#5: Connect with the community

Twitter is about making connections and engaging with people. Keep your tweets as conversational as possible and communicate from your heart.

Don’t always focus on gaining popularity or going viral. Popularity has its place, but relevance will always trump cheap popularity. Many times, the value you offer to your community is the most important thing.

Make out times to read tweets of companies and people you want to connect with.

Be a promoter, support their cause and be generous with your retweets and comments. Everyone likes a compliment and affirmation but make sure that it doesn’t come out as spam.

If you have to DM, be sure to state the exact action you need the person to take. Sending “hello, how are you?” to someone is usually not a good communication line – especially when you don’t know each other. People are busy with several things, so be specific with your ask and follow up when you don’t hear back from the person. However, be strategic with the frequency of your follow-ups.

#6: Evaluate and recommit

Reviewing your activity is important for building your brand and connecting with the right people. In the world of social media, things change very fast and you must continually evolve.

Always make time to scroll through your timeline and read your tweets with an outsider’s eye. Review and refine your communication.

Use the tips from point one to create benchmarks that makes you progressive. When you have mastered the art, you can always create your own process.

Building a brand requires tact and patience. If your goal is to build a brand that hiring managers will literally fight over, you must do it with intention.

Tweet and get hired!

Twitter is a very powerful tool for connecting with a global community. Whether you’re a complete novice or a Twitter pro, the hacks above will help you become so relevant that companies will pay you to represent them.


We’d love to hear what you’ve tested and how it went. Let us know in the comments.

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Image Credits: Dan Zarrella, Maskot/Getty Images 

Internships are super important for every college student today. Apart from them being ways of exploring the world of work, they help you acquire job experience. Recruiters will hire someone with a job experience rather than someone with a general resume.

(If you are looking for feasible tips and strategies on how to prepare for your dream career, level-up with this inside scoop from hiring managers.)

Many companies are increasingly investing in internship programs as a recruitment tool for full-time jobs. Therefore, your ability to distinguish yourself from other interns contributes towards your chances of getting hired. In this post, I will give you a cheat sheet for making that happen!

  1. Have a clear goal

Internships are investments in your future. They move you even closer to actualizing your career goals. Consequently, you need to have a goal for your internship. Be specific about what you want from the opportunity and work towards actualizing it every day.

Your goal must not be extraordinary; it could be skills you want to learn from the job and how you want to be remembered afterward. The effect of your work is often the most important thing.

Endeavor to merge your goals into your supervisor’s goal. No matter how significant your goals are, if they are not in congruence with that of your boss, you are running a losing race. Therefore, be clear about what he or she wants from you at the end of the day and use every opportunity to actualize it.

  1. Be a fast follower

Here is a rule of thumb: the first reason for an internship is to gain a hands-on, real-world application of what you study in college, and to get an experience of what your everyday life will look like on the job. So, to make the best of this opportunity you must learn as much as you can from your colleagues and your assigned tasks.

There are two kinds of people in every company: the high achievers and the lagers.

Find out who the stars are and understudy them. Learn how they approach their jobs, how they dress, communicate, relate to others, and so on. Find out what makes them shining stars. Success leaves crumbs and if you show a genuine interest, you will learn one or two vital lessons.

It might not always be easy to make a connection, so you need to be smart. A gift often opens many doors, buy something like a cup of coffee for him or her (be the person is the coffee type though) or bake them their favorite cookie. If that doesn’t work, find out what they are working on and see how you can be the “Mike Ross” to their “Harvey Spectre”.

  1. Be indispensable but be professional

If there’s anything I can guarantee that EVERY boss dislikes, it’s having to do the work you should do. The fear of “turning assistance to resistance” is the major reason many interns are not given responsibilities beyond minor errands.

So, your job is being that intern that goes above and beyond in executing tasks. Take initiatives, volunteer when the need arises, and don’t leave at the end work of every work day until your boss tells you to leave.

Depending on the company you work with, make time to connect with people in other departments as well. However, do not take more deliverables than you can finish on time. Learn to manage your expectations because you might not always get credit for your work or ideas. Above all, don’t be sloppy – present yourself in the best light.

  1. Network but keep your eyes open

Relationships are the currency of the future. No matter how good you are, if no one can vouch for your competencies, you do not exist. Your internship gives you the opportunity to connect with your workforce field. These are people who can point you in the right direction or serve as mentors as you progress in your career journey.

Nevertheless, don’t be carried away with networking and making connections that you forget your priority – your job.

More so, there is a fine line between networking and flirting. The latter is dangerous for your career. It’s easy to create a reputation for things that are not interesting so be sure to know when the conversation is changing tones.

Finally, leverage platforms like LinkedIn to keep your connections together. If you want to go a step further, create a MailChimp account and add your contacts to a list. Think of it as your personal brand’s mailing list.

  1. Seek Feedback

Here’s another thing most interns do not know: no one expects you to know everything about the job or company. Consequently, one of the smartest things you can do is to seek for and respond to feedback. Ask for help or clarifications because asking is a sign of maturity. Many interns have made terrible blunders because they were afraid or proud to ask. Don’t let that be you!

Here’s the right way to ask for feedback:

  • Listen: Don’t be in a hurry to explain or excuse yourself, listen to understand the speaker’s point of view. In the end, the reason for feedback is to make improvement so listen to understand not to have a ready answer/argument.
  • Ask for clarifications: If the feedback is surprising, ask for clarifications. Perceptions are often deceiving so be sure to understand what is required.
  • Observe: Observing your co-workers and being more self-conscious could also be a fantastic way of seeking feedback. Observe the reactions of the people you engage with and adjust yourself so. Furthermore, instead of always looking to your boss or supervisor for feedback, consider asking your colleagues. They are the ones that interact with you the most and will often give you some of the most insightful feedback.
  • Act: Acting on the feedback ensures the loop is kept and helps you improve. In a situation where the feedback is difficult, take time to adjust and then go back to the speaker with your questions. In any case, be sure to express gratitude for the feedback no matter what it sounds like.
  1. Show gratitude

The ‘attitude of gratitude’ is an asset; it’s the rub for making lasting impressions. When you finish your internship, show appreciation for the opportunity given you. If you do it right, you would have shifted the odds in your favor towards a full-time job.

Make efforts to share specific skills you learned on the job and thank everyone that helped you in the process. You could also add an individualized touch by sending separate notes to each person that assisted you instead of a general thank-you letter.

However, a thank-you letter is not a tool for ranting or sharing your frustrations. If you have recommendations you wish to make, express your views politely. More so, make sure that every information you share is correct. Equally important, don’t ask for a job bluntly. Instead, you could ask for is a LinkedIn recommendation.

Finally, include your contact details and any other useful information. If you wrote a blog post about your experience (this is a great marketing tool for the company), add a click-through link to the post in your note.

Internships are great investments in your future. Nevertheless, to make the most returns on investments, you must 1) have a clear and precise goal for the opportunity, 2) learn vital job skills, 3) go above and beyond in executing your tasks, 4) create lasting connections, 5) seek for and respond to feedback, and 6) show appreciation for the opportunity.


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Image Credit: LinkedIn Sales Navigator.

Concerning the ability to study, there’s an old saying that if you want to hide something from an African, put it in a book.

Hilarious, right?!

Well…even though that statement might not be entirely true, I think that many of us struggle with studying – especially in this age of social media, automation, and twerk videos.

But as any successful entrepreneur or corporate executive will tell you, reading is of vital importance. The reason is that reading makes your mind receptive to fresh thoughts and ideas, it refines and nuances your thinking process.

If you want to learn how to change your study habits and consume more quality contents, this article has incredibly useful tips that can change your life!

So, let’s walk through the process, shall we?

How to Study Effectively: Simple Tricks You Should Know

  1. Find a pattern that works for you

In 2012, while studying for my B.Sc., I listened to a certain lecturer tell an interesting story of his personal experiences as a student.

When you’re a freshman still figuring out what the courses were and so on, those are the kind of stories that get your attention the most. Frankly, his story was quite fascinating because what he told us was at cross purposes with what a lot of us believed was the secret to getting good grades in college.

He would read for a brief period at night and in the daytime, he said, he would simply coast along with everyone else. To his classmates, he was just another lousy student until the day his name came out as the best graduating student!

The story made an impact on me and I decided to figure out how to navigate the system as well.  I realized that attending classes was my best bet in keeping track of things. Hence, I made conscious efforts to take notes at each lecture. The rest is history because I graduated with a First while building a start-up.

The moral of the story?

Find out what works for you and follow it. Some people are never satisfied until they’ve read the textbooks 5x cover-to-cover. If that is you, maybe you can structure your reading period to be more than your class participation to the extent that the rules allow.

Illustration by Alex Green

  1. Create a schedule and stick to it

Having a reading schedule is very vital.

Create your schedule in such a way that you don’t start reading when you’re already tired. Also, your reading session doesn’t have to be a long period. You can create a break session in-between the schedule so that your brain gets refreshed.

Most people have this idea that until you’ve read for a very long time, you cannot digest much information. On the contrary, experts have discovered that reading for a long time in a stretch does not necessarily add to your learning.

The attention span of an average reader is about 25 minutes, and any reading activity longer than that is a waste. So, let’s say you have like most students do, a timetable that says you need to study for one hour every weekday. It’s advisable to create short breaks after every 25 – 30 minutes instead of sitting on the desk for one-hour staring at open pages without assimilating anything.

Furthermore, creating a study schedule helps you maintain consistency with your learning. The more consistent you make your reading reschedule, the more habitual and less of a struggle it becomes.

  1. Create an environment that works for you, not against you

How many times have you found yourself in this type of situation:

You promise yourself that tonight, you are going to read like never!

You have everything ready; the phone is on silent, school bag is off the way, and armed with three different colors of highlighters, you sit on one edge of the bed and open your textbook with a serious reading posture.

Ten minutes later, you catch yourself nodding. You step off, watch your face, get back and reposition yourself with a new game face on.

Five minutes later, your bed starts whispering into your ear again, “Jaaanne come sleep on meeeee.”

Begrudgingly, you promise yourself that things will be different tomorrow. So, you put all the stuff away and you doze off.

A familiar experience, right?

Sure, many of us have been there at one point.

Your environment plays a key role in how fruitful your reading time becomes. A bed is primarily for resting and not for reading. If your bedroom is the same as your reading room, make sure your reading table is placed in such a way that you can sit with your back towards your bed. That way, you’re able to concentrate on the task at hand.

Create an environment that helps you focus – turn off the TV, put your phone on silent mode and turn down the volume of your stereo. You can’t be humming to a song on the radio and expect to concentrate on your reading, it’s never going to happen!

Some people have also found that placing motivational quotes at strategic positions in the reading section helps them commit to their schedule. Ultimately, your role is to create conditions that help you make the most of the session.

  1. Engage in participatory learning

Many of us learn by rote – we just memorize facts without understanding the concepts behind them. It’s what students call “shew and pour”. i.e You memorize things to reproduce the same during exams.

People that study like that are usually bored out of their minds when they sit down to read. Reading can be more than a session for memorizing things.

Robert Chambers, a British academic and development practitioner, described Participatory Learning as an adaptive learning strategy that enables people to learn, work and act together in a co-operative and democratic way.

This is where ideas like discussion classes and study groups originate from – to create an environment where people can collaboratively immerse themselves in the subjects they are learning. The process of participation fosters mutual learning and knowledge sharing. The warning, however, is that you make sure there is mutual respect among group members and that meeting is organized strategically to avoid growing weary of each other.

Facts Vs Concepts

A fact is something known to be true, a piece of information while a concept is “an abstract idea generalized from particular instances or evidence, so involves an inductive process or thought.” Facts are things we memorized while concepts are things we understood.

The reason many people often forget what they read is that they didn’t understand it, they only memorized it. The moment you understand it, it becomes a present-hour knowledge. So, focus on understanding the concept of the subject, and then build your own argument around it.

The reading comprehension formula

During World War II, droves of army people were sent to colleges and universities to attend intensive training in skills relevant to winning the war.  Professor of Psychology, Francis Pleasant Robinson, headed the Learning and Study Skills program at Ohio State University (OSU), and based on his research, he devised the “SQ3R method” and other techniques to help military personnel to learn specialized skills in as little time as possible. In his commentary, ahead of Veteran’s Day in 2002, Thomas G. Sticht called it “The reading formula that helped win World War II”.

How does it work?

SQ3R stands for:

S: Survey (the book/a chapter to get an overview)

Q: Question (ask one or more questions for each section in a chapter)

R: Read (and mentally answer the questions)

R: Recite (recall the answers to a section’s questions from your memory and write them down)

R: Review (a complete chapter, by answering the chapter’s questions from your memory)

Ask help from your Professor

Another participatory learning method is to get help from your lecturer. Asking for help/clarifications from your teacher is always a smart thing to do – it shows that you’re interested in the subject and helps you learn what you missed.

Teach what you learned

Finally, be quick to teach what you’ve learned. They say that if you can’t teach it, you haven’t learned it. So, find the opportunity to share your knowledge even if you don’t have all the answers yet. If you can’t find anyone to teach, consider starting a blog. You will realize that the more you teach, the more you learn. As James Clear has remarked, successful people start before they feel ready. The same is the case for teaching. And if you choose to start a blog, you will also be building a valuable audience, credibility and resource center.

Conclusion

I wish I could tell you that if you picked a few of the key elements above, you will completely overhaul your learning experience. But the reality is, you won’t.

It’s a complete package kind of thing, and you need to work on all the tips in the article. Surely, acting on some is better than acting on none, but the goal is to make the best of your study time and make learning enjoyable.

What other tips do you have for studying effectively? Drop them in comments.


Image Credits: iam Se7en, Rebeccamoch, Alex Green

Whether you are building a business or a career, there are times when you need a second voice in reinforcing your ideas or echoing your claims. That’s why you need quotes.

In the words of former Swiss Volleyball player and author of 100 Inspirational Quotes, Michel F. Bolle, “inspirational quotes are important because they activate an emotional pulse point in our hearts and minds when we are in a distressing situation. The right quote can help us to see light at the end of the tunnel, and give us that extra burst of hope and courage to persevere.”

Therefore, we ferreted out 40 powerful quotes from some of the most celebrated African leaders to help you get through any day.

                     Folorunsho Alakija, Vice Chair of Famfa Oil

· I never went to a university, and I am proud to say so because I don’t think I have done too badly.

· You need to decide what you want to achieve. Get rid of naysayers — those who say to you that you can’t do it. Never allow anyone to tell you it can’t be done. In my dictionary, ‘can’t’ doesn’t exist.

· You need to believe in your dream. Don’t give up when things get tough, just hang in there, stay focused and be patient.

· We have grown past the stage of fairy-tale. As women, we have one common front and that is to succeed. We have to take the bull by the horn and make the change happen by ourselves.

· It’s essential to draw up a “things to do” list on a daily basis and set priorities in executing them, making sure that any unfinished task gets posted to the next day’s list.


                                 Strive Masiyiwa, Executive Chairman & Founder of the Econet Group

· Whether you’re a farmer, builder or engineer, the opportunities are equal: Just add a little innovation.

· A vision on its own is not enough. Hard work & dedication is required to make that vision a reality.

· If you are working or you are running a business you have to set aside time and money to invest in your continued formal education and skills acquisition.

· You have to be very methodical in breaking down, the reason why something is successful. Most often it is not as simple as it looks.

· I started in business when I was 25 years old, with only $75, pooled between myself and a friend. We went around the suburbs fixing broken lights, and gates. We invested every cent, into doing bigger and bigger projects. For me, nothing has really changed in terms of those basic principles: you start with what you have, you do what you can, you invest what you get so that you can do bigger and bigger things.


   Lupita Nyong’o, Kenyan-Mexican Actress

· You can’t eat beauty, it doesn’t sustain you. What is fundamentally beautiful is compassion, for yourself and those around you. That kind of beauty inflamed the heart and merchants the soul.

· No matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.

· What I will say is that what I have learned for myself is that I don’t have to be anybody else; and that myself is good enough; and that when I am being true to that self, then I can avail myself to extraordinary things. You have to allow for the impossible to be possible.

· You fail, and then what? Life goes on. It’s only when you risk failure that you discover things.

· We don’t get to pick the genes we want. There’s room in this world for beauty to be diverse.


                       Tony Elumelu, Founder, The Tony Elumelu Foundation & Chairman, UBA.

· Today we may appear young and people may not believe in us but we are going to compel them to believe in us through our achievement.

· Your idea can transform Africa. Let’s stop talking and let’s start doing.

· A true leader is one who remains committed to a higher purpose that most others do not yet see. I have studied great people and one common thing I found among them is Legacy.

· Let us remind ourselves of the power of individuals and what potent capacities and opportunities lie in this. No one, but us will develop Africa.

· People management is key. Learn how to motivate your people. Be painstaking in choosing the right people.


                       Chimamanda Adichie, Nigerian writer, speaker, and Activist

· I think you travel to search and you come back home to find yourself there.

· Of course, I am not worried about intimidating men. The type of man who will be intimidated by me is exactly the type of man I have no interest in.

· If you don’t understand, ask questions. If you’re uncomfortable about asking questions, say you are uncomfortable about asking questions and then ask anyway. It’s easy to tell when a question is coming from a good place. Then listen some more. Sometimes people just want to feel heard. Here’s to possibilities of friendship and connection and understanding.

· Never ever accept ‘Because You Are A Woman’ as a reason for doing or not doing anything.

· They themselves mocked Africa, trading stories of absurdity, of stupidity, and they felt safe to mock, because it was a mockery born of longing, and of the heartbroken desire to see a place made whole again.


    Patrick Awuah, Founder, and President of Ashesi University College

· The people who have taken oaths and made promises, to be leaders and guardians of society, instead have disgraced us. I am challenging you to be the generation that can restore Africa’s honour.

· The ability to confront complex problems, and to design solutions to those problems; the ability to create is the most empowering thing that can happen to an individual.

· I think the current and future leaders of Africa have an incredible opportunity to drive a major renaissance on the continent. I believe that Africa has reached an inflection point with the march of democracy and free market across the continent. We have reached a moment from which can emerge a great society within one generation and it will depend on inspired leadership.

· It took a little bit of naivety to get started. I did not know how hard it was going to be. I think you just have to have this incredible confidence.

· I did have a lot of naysayers in Ghana but I didn’t have a lot of naysayers in America… when I decided to quit Microsoft people said ‘hey’ this is a great idea, this is what life is all about you have to chase your dreams and when you are ready to call us and we will see what we can do.


          Rapelang Rabana, South African Technology Entrepreneur and Founder of Rekindle Learning

· Skills and business knowledge will only take you so far, your principles, values, as well as your personal growth outside the business, matter more than just what you know.

· The more congruent the business is to who you are as an individual and what you value, the deeper your capacity to persevere and outlast.

· It is important to be close to the people and things that anchor you. For me, it’s my parents, my family, my close friends to have a laugh with. Being reminded of who you are, and regardless of the circumstances, that someone thinks you are great.

· If you don’t know why you are doing it, you will battle to make the kind of long-term commitment that will see you through the challenges.

·Not everyone realizes that by not choosing, life chooses for you and that is never the ideal outcome. Those who become great are deliberately creating their life path as opposed to allowing life to happen to them.


    Aliko Dangote, Nigerian billionaire, and owner of the Dangote Group

· Endeavor to work as hard as possible to attain a new aim with each day that comes by. Don’t go to bed until you have achieved something productive.

· I built a conglomerate and emerged the richest black man in the world in 2008 but it didn’t happen overnight. It took me 30 years to get to where I am today. Youths of today aspire to be like me but they want to achieve it overnight. It’s not going to work. To build a successful business, you must start small and dream big. In the journey of entrepreneurship, a tenacity of purpose is supreme.

· In whatever you do, strive to be the best at it.

· If you don’t have ambition, you shouldn’t be alive.

· Every morning when I wake up, I make up my mind to solve as many problems, before retiring home.


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Experts have said that one of the smartest investments you will ever make in your business or career is finding a mentor who believes in you and is willing to help you succeed.

However, whenever we discuss the subject of mentorship with our SFAN community, there are four basic questions we usually receive:

  • Who is a mentor?
  • Why is mentorship important?
  • How do I find a mentor that is right for me, and can I have more than one mentor?
  • How do I get the best from my mentor?

To this effect, we invited two emerging global leaders — Adepeju Jaiyeoba, Founder of Mothers Delivery Kit and Charles Lipenga, Founder/CEO of Maestros Leadership — for December edition of #SFANLiveChat; to give our readers valuable insights into the above questions.

1. Who a mentor is

“A mentor is someone who systematically empowers a person to see the future and believe it can be obtained.”- Charles Lipenga

Before you start your mentorship relationship, it’s important to understand who a mentor is.

Popular literature traces the origin of the word “mentor” to Homer’s epic poem: The Odyssey. In Odyssey, whenever the King of Ithaca went to fight in the Trojan War, he entrusted the care of his kingdom to Mentor. Mentor served as the teacher and overseer of Odysseus’ son, Telemachus.

“Mentors can be in form of supervisors, teachers, pastors, parents; they are there for our guidance, inspiration and/or correction. But, it is very important to understand that the measure of your success is not based on the mighty works your mentors do,” says Charles.

“There’s a favorite definition of a mentor I really love: A mentor is someone whose hindsight you make your own foresight,” Adepeju adds.

2. The importance of mentorship

“You cannot connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect it looking backward.” — Steve Jobs

With mentoring, Adepeju explains, we can learn from the mistakes of others, share experiences, know what loopholes to avoid as we go along and grow into the image fitting our vision or something close. Cheers, encouragement, a little push, some reality check is sometimes all we need.

Speaking from his journey growing his leadership development initiative into an award-winning social enterprise, Charles Lipenga is familiar with the importance and long-term impact of mentorship guidance. “Mentors provide information and knowledge. When I was starting out, I had no idea what was involved in running a business, including making a business plan, budgeting, handling daily operations, making strategic decisions or running a marketing campaign. Mentors can also be the best connectors. Because this person knows your enterprise or you, he/she might know the best organization/opportunity to link you with and when it is best. This comes in really handy.”

3. Finding the right mentor and the benefits of multiple mentors

“Only take advice from someone you are willing to trade places with.”- Darren Hardy

When it comes to finding a mentor that is right for you, Jaiyeoba says, “a number of things could be check listed: Does the person inspire you? Is the person a perceived reflection of who you want to be? Can the person help you grow? Does this person match the growth areas you want?”

Says Lipenga: you have to be crystal clear about your reason for seeking out a mentor. Define what type of help you’re looking for in a mentor; are you looking for someone with similar skills or with a very different skill set who can coach you?

Both speakers agree on the fact that you can have more than one mentor as it helps you garner different perspectives.

“Don’t limit yourself to one mentor. You can establish multiple mentoring relationships with individuals who can help you grow in different aspects of your life; personal, career, business, etc. Think of it as building your own personal board of directors.” Charles underscores.

Research has shown those who have mentors tend to have better career-related outcomes that stem from these mentor functions, it also shows those who receive the greatest benefit have multiple mentors.

4. How to get the best from your mentor

To get the best from a mentor, Adepeju clarifies, the first thing you need to understand is that your mentor is very busy, so be patient and flexible with him or her.

Secondly, you have to be hungry for it. “How bad do you want their advice? What are you willing to sacrifice to make it happen?”

Thirdly, you have to make it a value-centered relationship. “No matter how insignificant you think it is, give value.”

Fourthly, don’t take their time for granted. One of the biggest challenges with mentors is finding time to mentor, hence let it be more about relationship building. “Remember, we are all human. Consistently reach out to them to update on your progress. Mentoring is not another ‘job’, it’s about cultivating relationships.”

A mentoring relationship succeeds and is satisfying for both parties when both the mentor and the person being mentored take an active role in developing the relationship.

For Charles, you get what you aim for in a mentor. Therefore, you have to establish goals for the relationship. “Discuss and agree upon the goals of the relationship and what you, personally, are doing to make it a successful venture. Review these goals from time to time to be sure the relationship is working; if not, adjust and refocus.”

“Establish communication methods and frequency of contact from the beginning. Talk with your mentor to determine the channels of communication that will work for both of you. i.e will you meet face to face or communicate mainly through e-mail and the telephone?”

“Manage expectations and build trust. Mentoring takes time and implies sacrifices for both the person being mentored and the mentor. Be respectful of your mentor’s time and the other priorities in her life such as family, travel, and community activities.”

“Finally, always express your gratitude. I like to say, gratitude is the key to doors of more opportunities. Your mentor is likely to give a lot more than you do in the relationship in terms of time and contacts,” he explains.

Conclusion

As Denzel Washington says, show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living — if you do it well I’m sure there was someone cheering you on or showing the way — a mentor.

The importance of having someone who holds you to higher standards, and helps you reach your full potentials is valueless. Following the tips above can help you locate the right mentor that will give your career a great boast.

While I cannot guarantee it answers all your mentorship questions, what I can guarantee is that if you observe the guidelines carefully, you will not only get the best from your mentorship relationship, you will be in a position to mentor others.

If you have read the Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, then you’re already familiar with the concept of 10,000-hour work rule — an understanding that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field.

Whereas there are different opinions as to whether you need to, essentially, accumulate a definite number of hours before gaining mastery of your art, there seem to be a unanimous understanding in the fact that becoming an authority in your craft requires intention and strategy.

Consequently, we invited two media personalities, Berla Mundi and Anita Erskine, at November edition of #SFANLiveChat to discuss how folks looking to build their brands in the media industry can actualize that aspiration.

With a little retrospection and thought, we’ve picked out vital insights from the chat as follows.

Find your route into the Industry

The media industry is highly competitive and not in short of talents. Hence getting your foot in the door comes with a lot of hard work, dedication, and patience says Berla Mundi. “I had quite an easy route into the media industry after partaking in Miss Malaika Ghana in 2010. However, I always advise people to enroll into media institutions and whiles at it, they can get involved in Campus activities that further introduce them into the media space. But education is never enough. You must be really passionate about it because the media isn’t an easy place to pursue your career.”

Tweeting from one side of the education advocacy line, Anita Erskine notes the importance of training for the job, “I think education is paramount. Preparedness and commitment are vital and so is the appreciation that it may take longer than you plan to be fully immersed in the field.”

Anita Erskine, Founder of AnitaErskine Media

Find the personality that fits your style

Every great media personality has a unique style that sets him or her apart in the industry. Even if you’re listening to them for the first time without knowing who they are, Anita Erskine’s authoritative command of the airspace or Berla Mundi’s inspiringly youthful delivery style is quite unmistakable.

Both speakers agree that knowing yourself is of vital importance in creating a unique style.

Berla Mundi: Media work is about being you. It’s the only way to stand out.

For Anita, her brand style comes from a burning desire to change the art of storytelling around the world. “I like the ‘low maintenance, high performance’ approach to life. Less talk more action,” she says.

Taking a personality test might also be useful in figuring out who you are and can save you hours of thankless work in trial and error.

Ensure that your brand connects with the audience and community at large

“I ensure, first off, that what my audience is seeing is my true and most authentic self. Then I hold on to my passion as well. I don’t compromise. It’s the only way my audience believes what I say. And finally, I believe in consistency. I try to avoid double messaging,” Anita says.

No matter how good you are, if you don’t have people who love what you do and are willing to tune in to listen or watch, you are nothing.

“You need to study your audience and connect with them emotionally. People want someone they can identify with and look up to,” Berla underscores.

There are several media personalities that nobody remembers their names or faces anymore. The industry is fast paced and so, you have to be continually present in the community and in the minds of your fans by building trust and humanizing your brand. Join a cause, do occasional volunteer work, mentor the next generation…be present and approachable. Incredible things happen when your fans can sincerely connect with you and Social Media helps you achieve this with ease.

Berla Mundi, Radio/TV Personality

Remain relevant to your audience

In an industry as fluid as the media, maintaining relevance is tough.
Innovation is always happening, tastes continually change and the audience can be unforgiving. Therefore, consistently evolving and staying abreast of trends is imperative.

“I pay attention to global evolution because my audience is a part of the world and it’s ever-evolving and changing patterns. As the world turns and changes so do I change the texture of my voice, my approach and my expectations. This way I am always relevant.

The media is a powerful and great place to be. Being the custodian of information and developing the direction through which an audience can hear and absorb information is a humbling experience. But to be GOOD at what you do, you need to learn. Don’t shy away from that!

I’m self-trained but additional education is always a better bet. I’m going back to school to formally study Broadcast Journalism. Education is paramount,” Anita elaborates.

Final thoughts

The future of media is changing every day.

Online streaming, social media, and mobile phones are creating new preferences and diverting interests of consumers from traditional media platforms like radio and TV.

Today, the skills for the job are beyond having a good face, voice or writing skills. We are witnessing a need for thought leadership, high-performance skilled labor, and increased ownership of the landscape.

The business model for gaining and sustaining a high-quality media presence is, therefore, distilled into ensuring that you have; a) a clearly defined route into the industry, b) a personality that rhymes with your style, c) a brand that connects to your audience and the community, and d) a platform that is continually relevant to your listeners, readers or viewers.


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Featured image by Mark Solarski on Unsplash

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