Networking by definition is Creating a group of acquaintances and associates and keeping it active through regular communication for mutual benefit. This did not mean anything to me until I landed in a new country and my only network was my husband whom I had to rely on for every single need as I tried to learn my way around the new city. “It’s only a stone throw away from my native country.” I thought to myself as I packed my bags. I self-reassured that it could not be so hard to adapt.
Unfortunately, last week, as I was just about to leave for work, a nanny who has been loyal to us for the past one year decided to take a sick leave. In a calm and soft spoken voice she claimed that she was unwell and needed to travel for treatment indefinitely. Shock on me; I had no idea that she was sick.
It had been only a week since she returned from her two weeks leave over the Easter holidays. I was helpless at that point. I work almost 10 hours a day and have to travel for an hour or so in the traffic stricken city to get back home in time to prepare dinner and attend to the house hold chores. This was after she had delayed her return from leave with excuses of heavy downpour that had rendered the roads impassable. However, when she requested leave barely a week from her return, I sent her packing not thinking clearly of my next move.
As soon as she left, I called my husband. He was quiet on the phone for a minute and I knew I had made a bad choice to send her packing without a fall back plan.
For the next two days I had to look for a new house help frantically. Since I didn’t know how to go about it, I felt helpless as I had to rely on my husband’s contacts.
It was during this period I realised that house chores can be very tiring. On my second day, I had muscle cramps and my whole body was in pain. It has been ages since I did laundry or knelt to clean under the beds.
My husband kept me strong as he listened every evening to my endless complaints. He asked me at some point to consider taking back the old house help but my pride could not allow me to.
I remembered with nostalgia how back at home nanny issues were a thing of the past as we raised our only daughter. We had support system from family and friends and no one time I was bothered when a house help decided to pull one on poor me.
Networking means everything in the current times. From simple things as creating new friendships, looking for a new nanny, buying property to the much needed dream job; it requires one to have the right connections otherwise it’s a total waste of time to apply frantically on all the job posts.
In building a Business; networking is a key factor in marketing plan. It helps to develop a strong feeling of trust between those involved and play a big part in raising the profile and takings of a company. suppliers and businesses can be seen as networked businesses, and will tend to source the business and their suppliers through their existing relationships and those of the companies they work closely with.
Networked businesses tend to be open, random, and supportive, whereas those relying on hierarchical traditional managed approaches are closed, selective, and controlling. These phrases were first used by Thomas Power, businessman and chairman of Ecademy, an online business network, in 2009.
In the Maslow Hierarchy of need Abraham Maslow in 1943 demonstrated that the human being is a social animal .This need to belong in the society meant networking. For one to be recognised in the society networking plays a vital role. We need friends, acquaintances, social media, advertisement and any formal or informal way to put ourselves out there for us to achieve our intended goal.
Before online business networking, there existed face-to-face networking . This was achieved through a number of techniques such as trade shows marketing and loyalty programs. Though these techniques have been proven to still be an effective source of income, many companies now focus more on online marketing due to the ability to track every detail of a campaign and justify the spend involved in setting up one of these campaigns.
“Schmoozing” or “rubbing elbows” are expressions used among business professionals for introducing and meeting one another in a business context, and establishing business rapport.
I recently attended InterNations event; a forum for expatriates to network in Dar es Salaam. The event was a success. I realised that such informal meetings are great networking platforms. The contacts I made have in many ways been beneficial.
I met a top official in one of the leading cement manufacturers in East African countries and my first thought at the time was that I should get a job in the company but what I gained from our interaction was more helpful than the job itself. We spoke of the market potential and what I could attain more by having my own business as compared to being in full time employment.
Most foreign investors find this market to have so much potential with volumes of untapped opportunities. With good capital, good product concept and good marketing strategy, one can build an empire within days.
The only thing needed from the market in return is confidence and loyalty in the products /service and the business is home and dry. The culture here promotes socialism and embraces locally made products /services.
A new entrant to this market needs local hands to support in venturing in the market. Mostly partnering or joint ventures will work for quick entry into the market. The partnership is important too in gaining network that will support the business in the targeted area.