Exposure: The meat in the PIE of Success!

Source: Bola Lawal, Co-founder & CEO, ScholarX @bwlofhouston www.scholarx.co

So, I just left Lagos, where I had been for the past week; WORKING. Yes, I worked my tail off to attend as many business meetings, make key acquaintances, set the ground work for vital partnerships, eat amala Whitehouse, enjoy as many Café Neo locations and oh that other thing called MEDIA. Please accept my apologies for flooding your timelines. My dear dear friend Mr Aguda, please we are sorry. You can have your city back (temporarily) lol

The term “PIE of Success” is something I learnt earlier this year at a Young African Professionals (YAP) meeting in Houston. They invited this amazing speaker who had spent a big chunk of her career at Dell, particularly in the HR division. PIE she explained meant: Performance, Image, and Exposure. And then she asked the audience which one did we thought was the most important. Predictably, most of us chose Performance. It’s easy for one to assume that Success is a direct derivative of Performance, especially in the work environment. She now gave the scenario of certain individuals in the workplace who tend to get promotions primarily because of their closeness or rather exposure to decision makers, though they may not be the best performers. Like we say sometimes it’s about who you know or rather who knows of you!

In just a week, I appeared on Radio (City 105.1 FM, and Eko 89.7 FM), TV (Channels TV (RubbinMinds, TechTrends), Rave TV), Webinar (Vericampus) and YouTube (Tech City and Quorum), all without the help of a PR firm. This was purely on relationships we’ve been building for almost a year. But exposure played a key role. We made the decision early on to make ScholarX a conversational Brand. Thus, our heavy interaction and engagement on social media as well as attendance/participation in as many events as possible.  Key thing to understand is that, your immediate target – customers, are not the only ones paying attention. There are other stakeholders such as potential Investors, Mentors, Media and so on who may be watching and taking notes. There is a good chance they already know who you are when you approach them, and that helps in furthering your cause.

Now let’s examine how Exposure can help Students and Young Entrepreneurs be successful.

Students

There’s the saying that is not about knowing “book” (iwe) but more about having a “way”. Now while this must have been used to express knowing your “way” around campus i.e. “sorting” your way through courses. The true meaning of this expression is about Exposure. While being a good student (performance) is good, what sets you apart in a situation where there are lots of other good students? Do the right people know of you and your accomplishments? What are you doing to stand out? These are questions a student who strives to be successful beyond the norm need to answer. You want to set yourself up to be in position to win top awards, get the best IT placements, get study abroad exchange program opportunities, win SCHOLARSHIPS and so on. Some of the ways you can do this is to take on leadership positions and volunteer activities on campus. Also, setting up a small business or startup on campus also gets you noticed, and shows that you’re impact driven and care about solving a problem. Digital media is also key here. Being active on any of the popular platforms by sharing your views on social issues without being too controversial and or maintaining a blog could be a big plus as well.

 

Young Entrepreneurs

Young Entrepreneurs I believe will be the key drivers of success in Africa. Africa is a young continent and young people dominate in-terms of numbers. However, we’re not there yet when it comes to economic share. The outlook is very bright as we see more young people developing brilliant ideas into promising products. One thing to pint out though is, we see the emphasis on developing the products but no real game plan in terms on getting the products in front of the target customers. Hence Exposure problem. I’ve even heard some say ” ….oh just build a great product and it will sell itself”  Well it does not work that way really. Even some of the biggest and baddest brands with solid name recognition invest heavily to ensure that they continue to get the most Exposure as possible. So, for a young person who has a promising product but feels the needed funds to create the right exposure level is not accessible, you need to think critically on things you can do to create the right buzz with limited resources. First place to look at is your immediate network. Does everyone around you know what you’re working on? You’d be amazed at the reach of the people you know. We often underestimate our networks till we need them. Have you pitched at your church or mosque? What’s your social media game like? If weak, you need to step it up. Go look at what others do to keep their engagement levels up and try to apply some of the concepts. Do you have a blog? These are simple things you can do that can give you that ultimate exposure

 

Moral of the story is, make enough noise till you are heard!!!