‘Networking’ means forming business connections and contacts through informal meetings. Business and professional networking serves many purposes: general marketing, sales, recruiting, job-hunting, knowledge exchange, and business development.
A saying goes: “It is not what you know but who you know.” The good jobs and business deals come from connections. Networking will make you develop lasting, dependable and equally valuable relationships with other professionals and entrepreneurs.
There are many events that can be used as networking opportunities, including, among others: conferences, workshops, meetings, and parties. When a professional, entrepreneur or even student attends those events it is most likely that they will meet likeminded people with whom they can first exchange contacts and develop dependable relationships for their respective business’ or career’s growth.
Last year I attended a friend’s goodbye party where I met a medical student from Germany who had just arrived in Rwanda for an internship. The student asked me to help him improve his basic Kinyarwanda and brief him about the Kigali lifestyle. During that event he also met a compatriot from his hometown.
In addition to the above mentioned advantages, a business person can find potential clients for their products and services. If you are unemployed it is also possible to meet potential employers who are looking for your qualifications.
Kiki Mwobobia is a magazine editor from Kenya. She says that she uses LinkedIn, a social media website for professional and business networking.
“The organization I work at sponsors events too and people from around the country plus professionals attend the talks offered. I use this platform to interact with them and acquire information that could help me in my career,” adds Kiki.
The Internet has made networking easy and fast. It is only a click away, and you meet professionals and business community members from around the world.
Some of the most used websites include LinkedIn.com, mentioned above. It is a social media platform for professionals, graduates and business people, it helps its users to network and join discussion groups where they talk about issues related to their careers.
AfricaAlumni.com is a global network for African professionals and entrepreneurs. It publishes career resources and articles for career development. It also posts job adverts primarily located in Africa, and has a business directory that enables users to advertise their businesses to a global audience. You can also find a mentor through this website.
Linda Bach is a newspaper journalist from Kenya who networks through social media, mostly Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
“I have gained a lot from Facebook. There was this time I learnt about a workshop in Ghana on the International journalists network (IJnet) Facebook page. I applied and was picked…it was a worthwhile experience because I met journalists who I network with to date,” says Linda.
“I also network through KENSJa…an association of science journalists…Through this association I have attended various workshops that are beneficial to my career,” she adds.
Flavien Ngendahayo is a health worker and a university lecturer. He also networks mainly for his teaching, related research and others jobs he does parallel to his teaching position. He often uses the Internet to network.
Yves Nsengiyumva is a young business gentleman from Musanze in Rwanda’s Northern Province. He said in a phone interview that his networking strategy is getting brokers’ contacts. They help him find information he needs in his agricultural products sales business.
Business people, professionals and aspiring professionals alike should not underestimate networking because it will sooner or later advance their businesses and careers.