I relocated to Lagos, over 7 years ago and I often get asked by friends in London how I manage to survive living in Nigeria and I laugh out loud and say ”You just have to fasten your seat belt and pray and be ready for an exhilarating ride”. Here are 7 tips that I have learned about living and surviving in Nigeria especially for those of you who may be thinking of coming back.
- BE BOLD
It goes without saying that in a place like Nigeria especially Lagos, you have to be bold. I am not talking about just being confident which I will explain in my next point. When I say bold, I mean you have to step out and do the things that you are afraid of, like your life depends on it. You have to do things that may seem pretty ridiculous. For example, after many years of planning events on behalf of clients, I took a bold step this year and started hosting my own corporate workshops which I am proud to say are successful. You have to feel the fear and make the bold step anyway. This is not a place that rewards timidity.
- BE CONFIDENT
If you show any signs of insecurity or weaknesses they will be exploited in a place like Nigeria. So you have to equip yourself with all the knowledge and skills to do what you say you can do and become very confident at it. In addition you have to walk confidently, talk confidently and speak confidently. Sometimes this will mean looking inwards and taking a real look at your strengths and weaknesses. Then start to do the things that make you feel confident. There is no stiff upper lip here. Confidence is rewarded.
- RESERVE TRUST
Don’t go into relationships or engagements fully trusting people until they have proven themselves trust worthy. Always be cautious. Growing up in London, I was taught to trust people on face value until they show you who they are but in Nigeria you have to ‘ shine your eyes ‘ very quickly, a local word meaning wake up and look at what is really happening. Be cautious with information you see on websites and social media because a lot of it is hype. Look out for social proof and referrals.
- FIND NETWORKS
Nigeria is a networking paradise. Most people are hospitable and love to talk. The best deals often come from word of mouth. There are many ways you can network here, which may include attending industry related events and from building relationships. Stay in touch with people and don’t call people up only when you want something from them, rather check to see how they are doing. There’s a lot of ”Scratch my back and I will scratch your back” (returning favours) in this environment, so make the most of it.
- DON’T TAKE THINGS TOO SERIOUSLY
Nigeria is chaotic and things don’t work in the way you maybe used to. You might end up getting really sick though if you complain about everything happening in the country. Always aspire for excellence in your own dealings. Have a deeper purpose beyond your immediate comforts. If you are going to complain about the roads, the light and everything that is not working, then don’t come back because you will be frustrated.
- FIND YOUR PURPOSE
From my experience, Nigeria is actually a place where you can find your purpose. With so many gaps and opportunities, you can really self actualize here. Nigeria is a place where I have been able to maximize all my gifts and I am still discovering more. Do your research and see where those gaps are and come home and do something unique and different. If you want to pour out yourself to others, then this is the place to do it.
- TRUST GOD
Nigeria is still a very religious nation. The God factor is still very present, even in business. Nigeria is a place where you have to totally trust in your Maker and not in man. This environment will challenge your faith at times but you have to believe that God has a good plan for your life because he does.
I wish you all the best…
Rita Okoye is the CEO of Majestically Rare Limited and the founder of a movement called Raising Confident Girls. She relocated 7 years ago with her family to Lagos from London. She is very passionate about what she does. She helps her clients successfully penetrate the Nigerian business market place through applying effective marketing strategies including applying well thought out publicity tactics. She delivers successful High Impact Business Growth Workshop to business owners and business manager, she managers reputable and excellent corporate events and she speaks at conferences.
Contact Rita at email@example.com