La Femme Correspondent
SOUTH African industry professionals agree that networking is key to finding and then keeping a job in several different career segments.
Dave Duarte, CEO of Treeshake, says that one of the most important tools that young professionals have at their disposal is a business network.
"I believe that networks are one of the most important aspects of career growth.
"Many top jobs and business opportunities come through peer referrals – so get in touch with people in your industry or people who have similar business interests, and use networking tools like Twitter and LinkedIn,” said Duarte.
"Also attend conferences and professional short courses.
"These give rise to an astounding number of opportunities.”
And it’s not just a matter of following someone on Twitter, it says, because social media is a springboard for building relationships, not a substitute.
There is no substitute for human contact, say those in the know.
Dr Ivan Misner, founder of the business networking organisation BNI, said: "One of the most common mistakes people make about networking is that they don’t understand it is about farming and not hunting.
"Many people misunderstand and think that networking is transactional.
"They expect an instant return.
"However, real networking is not transactional, it is transformational. It is about developing long-term relationships.”
The human touch was what stood out for Suresh Kana, CEO of PricewaterhouseCoopers during his career. The relationships he built as a young man networking via a trainee programme inspired him – and his approach – for the rest of his life.
"The coaching culture in PwC most certainly had a significant effect on my career path,” he said. "Throughout my career, I have sought not only to develop myself but those around me as well.
"I do not see success as a destination, but enjoy the path along with the people I meet on the way.
"It is important to carry people with you as you climb the corporate ladder.”
Missing Links CEO Richard Mulholland agreed saying, "without sounding too cheesy a critical part of my success is that I have surrounded myself with smart people both inside and outside of the corporate world. I feel mentored by them every day.”
Tim Shier, managing director of BrandsEye, says the challenge is matching "virtual” time to "real” time in building business relationships that work.
"As a business, our focus is on identifying opportunities and risks as presented in the online space, then writing ‘real time’ strategies to meet these needs,” he said.