Bankole Williams on Mentorship and Networking for Career Success

Bankole Williams on Mentorship and Networking for Career Success

At the beginning of August we brought back our highly successful IG Live Career Development Series #Networkingforcareersuccess, but this time with a twist. For this special 4 part series, we focused on mentorship. We sought some of the top career mentors and asked them to share with us their top networking and mentorship tips.

As part of this series we interviewed Tara Fela Durotoye (Founder House of Tara International), Bankole Williams (Author, Coach, Consultant and Speaker), Folashade Ambrose Medebem ( Director Communications, Public Affairs and Sustainable Development, Lafarge PLC and Founder Women Inspiring Impact Network), and Osayi Alile (CEO, ACT Foundation).

Here are the top tips we learnt from Bankole Williams, Author, Coach, Consultant and Speaker on mentorship and networking for career success. 

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On first paid job- 9to5 and entrepreneurship

My first job was with GTB in Kaduna as a corper, when I finished serving I was retained.

I wrote various proposals and sent to different companies but nothing came through. A friend of mine introduced me to the head of HR at a company and we had a meeting which went very well. But after a while I didn’t hear back from him. So I called and he explained to me that although they were interested in progressing on the training, they didn’t have a budget for it yet. I decided to still do the training for free. I put my soul into delivering that training. I did it like I was being paid. Unknown to me, one of the participants was one of the ED’s of the company. After the session, he walked up to me and said “that was the best training I have ever attended. I want you to do this for us across our other branches in other states”.

On the importance of mentors and relationships

I would never be where I am today without mentors. A lot of the relationships and success I have today has been achieved through networking. I also never burn relationships. I am still using networks that I built while I was working in the bank.

Make sure you make a positive impact wherever you find yourself.

Fela Durotye is an incredible mentor, Lanre Olusola has also been my mentor since 2006.

I have helped the people who are fathers in my industry interpret their own dreams and in doing so my own dreams became interpreted by following them.

Oh how I met my mentors

I met Fela Durotoye for the first time in university where he came to speak on the Secrets of Academic Excellence. I saw him as someone living my future. Something inside of me told me I could be like him. I saw in him everything I wanted to be. In my innocence I walked up to him and I told him I wanted him to mentor me. From that day I followed him everywhere.

Difference between how men and women network

Men don’t have issues walking up to their fellow man to introduce themselves. Men don’t size each other up as much as women tend to analyze before they approach.

Women need to be bold and make the move.

On dealing with fear of networking

It is a person who shows himself friendly that has friends. Go out of your comfort zone, say hello and pay a compliment.

All you have is that moment. So use it.

People are so caught up thinking about themselves that nobody spends too much time thinking about you.

Fear knocked on the door and I opened it and there was no one there. The way to conquer fear is to face it. Before you begin to over analyze- jump. Jump before your mind has a chance to stop you.

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On networking mistakes I have made

Over thinking, not making the move. Listen to the subtle nudges in your mind and don’t let procrastination steal that opportunity.

How to choose a mentor

I pay attention to my feelings. Who makes your baby jump? But you will never know if you don’t expose yourself to people. Expose yourself to materials and successful people in the field you want to enter. I follow people on international platforms who are not popular but I have a strong connection to them because when they speak I get direction.

On getting a mentors attention.

Imagine your potential mentor is focused on a specific task or goal, when you ask them to mentor you, what you are really asking them to do is take time off their goal to focus on you. Instead of doing this, get your mentors attention by focusing on what they are already focused on. Get ahead of them and focus on their focus, that way you are in front of them. Today I mentor people who never asked me to mentor them.

People who want mentorship should look for how they can meet the needs of those they want mentorship from.

When I started my business, I was still going to meetings with Fela Durotoye to help him with his own business. Since I worked in a bank I reviewed a lot of proposals so I could share with him what companies were looking for when they reviewed proposals.

On lessons my mentor taught me

The biggest lesson my mentor has taught me has been through observation.  To live a life of impact. Everything you seek lies on the other side of impact

On managing relationships

The reason you are struggling is because you are not prioritizing relationships

In my previous job, I didn’t get a promotion when I thought I deserved one. At the same time, I got offered a new job but I didn’t leave my job because of the relationships I had. Years later my boss in that company joined another bank and today they are my biggest client because I managed that relationship.

People have missed out on opportunities because they have destroyed relationships.

The quality of questions you ask is also important as it will determine the quality of responses you receive. Before you go and meet with a mentor, look at the challenges you have and think of questions that will bring about the solutions. When people have the opportunity, sometimes they don’t ask the right questions.

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