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Networking lessons from Chicago’s Big Six via The Swazi observer

January 4, 2013

Building beneficial networks


02 November, 2012 11:15:00By Medard Kamujuni
Every successful business is built on strong, permanent and beneficial networks.
These networks are established through a careful study of the target market. To build beneficial networks, you must understand the key players in your target market, the unique characteristics of prospective buyers of your product/service, how they buy, when they buy, who buys and more importantly, why they buy.
Once you have analysed the market, you must study the industry to which you belong. How many firms/individuals are targeting the same market and what are they doing better than you? What special skills, knowledge and experience do you have in comparison to theirs?
Effective networking is enhanced by leveraging your professional competencies, your ability to negotiate and your experience in the business. It is easier to network with your former acquaintances, workmates, business associates and friends than it is to approach “strangers”.
That is not to suggest that you should rely on your past networks. The kind of world we are living in demands that we are adaptive to the ever changing environment by progressively making fresh connections. As someone recently commented, “the future is not what it used to be”.
If speaking is one of your strengths, delivering presentations should form a part of your networking strategy.
However, you should be convinced that your message is packaged and presented in a way that is relevant to the experiences and expectations of your audience. You must show that you understand the problems your target audience is battling with and your proposed solution is better than those provided by others in the industry. As you build your network strategy, avoid hard-sell marketing techniques.
Your aim should be to merely state what you can do in simple terms and leave the decision to them. If you succeed in winning them to your side, this will translate into opportunities for you to conclude contracts, increase sales or build a strong network with them or their referrals.
Do not attempt to win all imaginable businesses in town. If you do, you risk spreading yourself too thin to be recognised. It is only when you identify and focus your attention on one or two target audiences and design your networking strategy to suit their specific needs, interests and conditions that you will begin to break through.
What matters most is the momentum or force with which you are able to launch your offering. You must show your potential partners that you have something unique. If you are truly passionate about your product, others too will catch the fire.
Business is developed by trust. No matter how much networking you do, if your business lacks an element of trust, your networking strategy will be in vain. You do not need to satisfy everyone to earn people’s trust in you and your market offering.
You need only to begin with one or two clients and build strong relationships with them based on trust. These will naturally pass this trust along spontaneously. When it comes to networking, depth is more important than width.
If you know your business well and are aiming at giving your customers your best, you will find it relatively easy to draw people’s attention to you and your business.
The modern economy is characterised by a highly segmented market. Between any two market segments are strong walls. Until you know what these walls are, you cannot break them; without breaking the walls, building trust of the individuals in these market segments will be an uphill task.
What are the main characteristics of your target market? Who are the key players (centres of influence) in that segment? What kind of investment is needed for you to secure their trust? If you can find answers to these questions, you are on your way to building beneficial networks. You may want to pause and ask yourself, “Why must I network with others? The answer to your question is on your lips – there are doors you cannot open on your own.
The world’s most successful people presented to us in history books were men and women who valued the influence of others on their businesses and personal lifestyles.
Notably among these was America’s Chicago group of six, commonly known as the “Big Six”. These were W. Wrigley, John R Thompson, Lasker, M.C Cullough, Ritchie and Hertz. These men of world repute achieved unimaginable entrepreneurial success not because they had any educational advantages or unique sources of capital.  Their success was purely based on their individual plans. These men realised the importance of networking long before the word “network” found its way into the English dictionary. They formed an alliance and often met at specific times of the year for the purpose of assisting one another with ideas and suggestions in their various lines of business.  This alliance was not a legal partnership but a loose association formed for the purpose of fanning each other’s passion and bailing each other out of whatever problem a member found himself in. Each of these men became world-class successful entrepreneurs.  For anyone who aspires to successful entrepreneurship, the writing is on the wall: BUILD STRONG NETWORKS BASED ON TRUST.
(Medard Kamujuni is an entrepreneurship research specialist. For comments email

If you can say “yes” to any of the following questions then feel free to get your invitation to book

  • Do you want to generate opportunities that will enhance your business?
  • Do you want to build mutually beneficial relationships with other decision makers?
  • Do you want your networking to relaxed and comfortable?
  • How about business seminars that can positively impact your business?
  • Would a huge variety of contacts be useful to your business?
  • Do you want the opportunity to promote your business and expertise?
  • Do you want a team of advocates and ambassadors for your business?
  • What about generating an ROI on your networking?

For your invitation contact

Sean Humby – Director – Business Network (SW) Ltd

Tel 01981 540708
Fax 0845 305 8155

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