According to Black Women: The Podcast

PODCAST | #1 How to network like a boss online

LISTEN: EP 1 from According to Black Women: The Podcast. Hosted by founder Masekane Nkwana

Whether you’re a professional or just starting out building a brand like me, the people you manage to make a part of your network, whether it’s digital or otherwise, are ultimately going to be the key players in guiding and helping you reach opportunities.

This episode isn’t about things I’ve done, it’s about things you and I can do. This is a learning curve for me too. And these are the tips I felt could work for me.

So how do I mingle online?


A strategy, or just a little bit of thought. Basically, strategic thinking but at the simplest level. Knowing me and the way I think I know a Networking strategy isn’t something I’m going to pour myself all over for days or just minutes typing and whatever. But even I know that at the end of that day, I need to find the right people and offer them something in order for me to ultimately get what I want from them. I might not always offer something or ask for a favour  immediately (terrible manners by the way) but when I reach out to someone it’s because I’ve thought about them and how we can help each other.  Networking is, to be crude,  selfish (bite me lol) – it’s all about looking out for you and your hind. It’s a game of buttering people up, then they’ll scratch your back and you’ll whip theirs. I’m teasing, it’s not that cut throat an exercise but yes, networking is more about your brand than it is about that of your connections, that’s just the way it is.

This is actually a somewhat double-fold point because we’re talking strategy – which is the why and who and choosing the kind of pool of connections we either want to be a part of or that we want to fish from at any given time and point. For instance, I’m a media company founder and now business writer, which means my focus is on people who A – are like me in a general sense so digital business owners for example and B – people who typically work with people like me, or people who are likely to do something that matters or is relevant to founders or content writers like myself.

BUT, and this is a very big but. The point of networking is to seek out opportunity even in places where it’s not always apparent. YOU DON’T KNOW WHO WHO YOU KNOW KNOWS! Almost everyone you meet might be important to your network or network building.

Where networking meets PR – Networking and PR are similar in that they are mostly free and thus highly accessible; they have a tight relationship because PR is all about media connections and relationships; and both don’t always result in monetary gain right away, but they improve your value, visibility and ultimately credibility, which might in turn make someone buy what you’re selling in the medium term.


Once you have an idea of the primary and secondary types of connections you’d like to establish, you have do the bare minimum and get online! Find out what digital circles your tribe runs in and join those platforms. You can’t do anything from outside the club. 

Which brings me to my next point, SOCIAL MEDIA

And if you’ve founded anything within the last 5 years, you’ll know this is pretty much the holy grail of online networking. It’s made life so much easier – between Twitter chats, Instagram Live Events and Founder Clubs, there are so many ways for you to connect with like-minded people who are walking the walk or have gotten the tshirt already and are well equipped to give you, the people, what you want.


You probably won’t be hearing from me and a whole bunch of other people on the internet if your big idea is sending HI messages and waiting for the other person to ask you how you’re doing? Get outta here with that.

Just like you, people generally value their time. Now especially on social media, you want to avoid people who look like they’re probably part of a pyramid scheme pretending to sell health products, and HI really doesn’t do much for you or your credibility. Be upfront about who you are and most importantly, what you are about.


Confession time, I’m guilty of not following through with a follow up message because I forget things easily. I will have a nice exchange with someone on Twitter or whatever, someone that I feel could be good for my business ego and I’ll only remember 18 days later that I had meant to pop someone a ‘nice connecting with you, like I mentioned, I’m currently working on X and blah blah blah’ email. If they are really important, I’ll usually do the belated walk of shame and still reach out.

Now, when you do reach out, don’t be creepy or expect an immediate response. Wait it out for 3 days or so then follow up. But also always be prepared to move on  because you don’t know these people from a bar of soap and sadly, they don’t owe you anything.


1. Pick a platform – whether it’s social media, online communities (and I want to get an article of some of the digital communities in South Africa that you can be a part of and leverage your ‘membership’) or founder clubs or a combination of all the above – make a decision and get yourself on there. I’ve had to learn the hard way how difficult it is when you’re essentially a one-man show trying to repurpose content across different especially social media platforms so keep that in mind when you’re making that choice.

2. Do you want to strictly give and take or do you want ‘deep + meaningful’ connections –  according to one expert, networking is more broad and building meaningful connections deep. I just want to say, decide for yourself. Networking doesn’t have to be as crude as I described it earlier. You make that determination, are you trying to connect with people and build a deep and meaningful relationship or do you function better with a ‘scratch mine and I’ll scratch yours’ dynamic. I don’t believe in one size so literally you can redefine anything under the sun.

3. Figure out your lead, your pitch – one of the best ways to build a network of connections is to always lead with how you can be helpful to someone and the help will almost always come back to you. This doesn’t mean slave away putting together proposals and selling yourself at a discount. Your lead can often make or break a forming connection. The question you need to answer is what is your secret sauce, we all have one and that is the basis of every connection. What do you have to offer?

4. Finally reflect first, but also always reflect last. Ask yourself and answer important questions. How  has your lead changed or evolved? Has your secret sauce changed? Are your networking goals still valid or do you need to rework them? Is your definition of networking still YOU? What are some of the traits you possess that hamper or really help your network building, how can you improve or leverage those? The questions are endless. But my rule of thumb is that self-improvement is possible at every stage of our lives. And I’m not being extra. I know we don’t always have to plan and think sometimes we should just be like I guess butterflies just buttterflying but when your life, livelihood depend on it, you probably do want to think about it.

Networking, like a lot of things, is like cake recipes – we might all end up with chocolate cake but a little crunch might work for you better than it does for me. So, just be like me, and do your research and constantly adjust what doesn’t work.

And remember, you may know who you know, but you don’t know who who you know may know.

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