Your circle is your anchor in business. In Fionah Samm’s words, networking is everything.
“One of my businesses is a result of a good standing relationship with a friend,” she said. “I believe one’s network is their net worth.”
Samm is a social entrepreneur, brand strategist and motivational speaker. During an Africa Tweet Chat, she recommended that entrepreneurs take time and check what kind of circle of people they’re surrounded with:
- If you need the truth about your brand, business and characters, will they tell you?
- Will they reach out for financial, moral or just any support they can?
- From what field of expertise do the people in your business circle hail from?
“These people can be in your same field or a different one as long as they have a positive impact on you and your business,” Samm said. “However, it is a bonus if you are acquainted with people who do what you do so that you share notes.”
She recalled when she formed a business circle and what drove her.
“The first quality I look for is a values match,” Samm said. “I seek people whose values resonate with mine. Then there’s gravitas — having greater skill, cognitive ability, experience or talent in an area I’m working on.
“Defining relationships is important,” she said. “Yes, you can have friends, but all of them must understand your vision. Be wise to have boundaries.”
Frequency of contact among those in business circles might vary. The cornerstone is knowing that help is at hand when needed.
“Communicate at least once a month, and be readily available for special events or when one needs specific assistance,” Samm said. “Keep relationships professional. Most opportunities slip away because people failed to stay in the right lane.”
Learn from experience
Mentors should be part of any business circle or network, lending experience and guidance.
“Mentoring is important because of the knowledge and professional socialization and personal support entrepreneurs can get to facilitate success in their business and beyond,” Samm said. “It helps you maximize opportunities to leverage key relationships.
“It’s important to learn from those who have done it before,” she said. “They can give you a heads up on failures and mistakes. Then you don’t need to reinvent the wheel but make it spin faster.”
Samm acknowledged that people have been misled in the process of assuming they were being helped. Her solution: Check the facts beforehand. This aids momentum.
“Sometimes we start off with a bang but lose the vibe along the way,” she said. “You need constant encouragement and support. The journey can never be safe without help.”
Depending on the nature of the business and circle, activities can be formal or informal. Samm gave examples:
- Social gatherings
- Networking events
- Anything that edifies members
“I’ve found that much can be learned in an informal environment such as sports,” Samm said. “Try golf or football, and share ideas in a relaxed mode.”
An active business circle is bustling with ideas, which can become best business practices and enhance everyone in the group.
“I’m privileged to have a circle that is well researched,” Samm said. “People know what’s happening. Hence, we always share ideas on how to improve our businesses.
“We are well-researched and positive people who give positive criticism, which is all one needs,” she said.
Even in a friendly, professional setting, competition abounds, which helps members meet and smash their goals. For instance, posting earning standings and bonuses give incentive to everyone to excel.
“Competition makes you gain substantial experience,” Samm said. “It lets you showcase skills, analyze and evaluate outcomes, and uncover personal aptitude.”