Recently I had the opportunity to be involved in what I think was a very eye opening and fruitful discussion with one of Africa’s most successful businessmen, Mr Mutumwa Mawere. The word exchange between us has ever since changed the way I view the world and the direction towards which I now stir my life boat. I had initially requested Mr Mawere to assist me grow in the labour force by helping me secure a better work position than the one I am currently in right now as I had imagined this wouldn’t be too difficult for a man of his calibre.
The crux of the discussion was what he referred to as developing your own network, something which he stated was very critical for brand establishment. Instead of working for the business, be the business and make the brand work for you meaning that the goal is to build a brand that will ultimately attract the most business in the long term simply based on its reputation built during its existence. Having a network will therefore ensure that others have knowledge of your brand and what it entails and as your brand grows and impresses, your network recommends it even more. In order for you to get the most out of your network and grow swiftly towards the set goals, your network must consist of relevant people to your brand or business. One of the most obvious questions I had in mind was how I do then go about starting this network and what will my brand or business be based on. The response is that we all have our interests and there are many others out there and most probably even more around us who share the same interests. The base of your network is made up of those around you with whom you share the same interests and who are just as willing to share ideas and grow their brands as you are. Think of networking as a cheaper way of generating new business and career opportunities as compared to advertising and public relations.
The idea is that your current position is your primary starting point, observe and take full advantage of all available opportunities. Richard Branson says that “luck is opportunity meets hard work” and therefore you determine your own luck depending on the amount of work you put in. Investors or employers are always looking for potential, make your brand or business visible while aiming to be different from similar others out there. Building your brand through networking takes full personal commitment which always works to your advantage when it comes to potential new business or employers. One other very important factor when it comes to networking is being genuine and trustworthy and be that symbol who is always willing to help others and therefore making yourself a very important resource in your network to whom others can turn when they need advice, ideas or solutions.
Remember that it is all about learning as you go, interacting with others in your sphere with the aim of genuinely helping them and exposing yourself to even more opportunities. My personal journey has begun and I will be sharing even more as I move forward
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