- June 1, 2017
- Posted by: pblafrica
- Category: Blog
When we speak of networking, many take it as the usual meet-the-people activities we engage in during our free times. Like going to pubs and having some weekend snack with pals. Of course most are characterised by football or political banter that does not add any real value to life.
But let us think over this in a few: how many meals do we take in a day? I guess on the higher side three breakfast, lunch and supper, if at all there are no snacks in between. Of these, how many do we employ for use for the benefit of our professions or businesses? I know most have none as the answer!
If we are to compute the total number of meals using the three meals a day average, it comes to about 1095 meals in a year. If we imagine only ten percent of these dedicated to utilising them to grow our business and professional relationships, this translates to around a hundred opportunities availed! Man is a social being and as such, networking events are relationship connections.
Networking has the potential of facilitating growth of business and professions through cultivating mutually beneficial relationships with other parties. They operate on the givers gain policy where, those who are willing and are committed to offer the other party something, benefit in return.
An objective driven networking event or social gathering ensures that each member of the network comes with something to offer the other member and in return, they get to receive something. As such, whenever the members of the network congregate, each comes with a referral or a business fulfilment for the other party.
Everyone would want to work with someone they know and as such, a relationship or acquaintance has to be cultivated. You can only work with someone you know, trust, like and invest time in building that social bond for mutual benefit.
Professionally run and objective driven networking gatherings work in a structured manner, with laid down ground rules that dictate the mannerisms of its members. What they aim at is to build a structured supportive system of doing referrals to its members. As such, each member would emanate from the meeting with substantial business and hence gain value from the relationship. They therefore need to have a common bond and objective to network and grow mutually.
Objective networking also would require that the members have an unbowed and unwavering commitment towards the social organisation. They should be able to afford to sacrifice their time resources or otherwise towards the networking forums. Most usually hold their meetings over a meal, either the breakfast or lunch period. As such, there should be strict observance of time and frequency of meetings. Some clubs have established ground rules that dictate penalties for deviance from established norms as a deterrence measure.
As mentioned, the mind-set of the network members should be sole to give. As such, all should work as a team with their sole purpose to market the other persons business. And hence each member markets the other members profession and business and in a way, advertises their commodities business via word of mouth. There is therefore need for sincerity on each members part to help the other as he or she receives help in turn. At the end of the day, through word of mouth, each business entity represented there is advertised for free and business leads generated!
The most important bit is availing tools of networking by the members. The most basic of them are business cards. These hold vital information and as such, they should be articulately designed and laid out with attractive features. A blog would also come in handy as it would be a platform for articulating issues of concern or interest and as such, attract followers and build a fan base. It helps one create an influence cheaply and conveniently.
As mentioned, one obvious benefit of networking is free and cheap advertising through word of mouth and referrals. Indeed, comparing the heavy costs of doing media ads versus the free word of mouth referrals, the later wins the day! In actual fact, it is said that over 98% of business leads generated today are through networks. If your business is currently not leveraging on this, then you are not in business!
It would also be an enriching experience socially and professionally to interact with people from diverse backgrounds. It is said, that we are defined by the books we read and the PEOPLE we associate with. It would also be a platform to learn new skills and get to learn from people who possess better experiences.
In a nut shell, next time you meet a person, get to task to see what you can learn from him or her. Let that interaction leave a lasting impression and in return, influence their life in one way or another. For indeed, clever people look for business or work. The smart build networks!