With expansion of business and piling up wealth we often witness businessmen talking about their newfound love for golf. People moving up the ladder in bureaucracy are often seen trolling in Royal Springs Golf Course in the latter stages of their career. Why do you think golf is played by rich and elite? Do you think that it's because it's an expensive game or is it that having more money shifts their taste buds from MS Dhoni to Tiger Woods? I am not here to discuss golf. I am rather trying to showcase the importance of a very significant aspect of business expansion i.e. business networking. Business networking is like finding your herd, and seeking out events where people like you hang out. It ranges from high profile cruise trips to a weekend tea party at a local coffee shop. The objective is simple, leveraging contacts for business growth.
To start a business one needs the right mix of resources like product, finances, expertise, plant and machinery and above all the people. People, both inside and outside the system, are those essential elements, which cannot be factored based on pure math. Unlike decisions regarding machine hardware specifications or financial ratios, dealing with human resources like customers and employees can be extremely fuzzy. Many case studies of successful business ventures establishes the fact that those companies that demonstrate competence in dealing with these soft resources are the ones who develop deep customer and employee relationships in the long run and eventually add value to their brand in the form of emotional equity.
There is a saying in Kashmiri "Gareeb sinz ropai lavei aethai aane (A poor man's rupee values only 50 Paise)". If we superimpose the same proverb as a framework in the real world, the definition of rich or poor in today's world should be in terms of "contacts" and not in terms of money alone. People with right contacts spend two to three times less in operational and logistic costs while establishing or running businesses than those with comparatively poor list of contacts.
Imagine going for a business trip to attend a trade fair at Pragati Maidan, Delhi and burning cash on hotels and cabs. In case you have a friend or relative stationed at Delhi, the cash burn comes down drastically. Another case can be the costs of promoting your business through print and electronic media. You can very well imagine the cost of advertisement. Instead, a business story on your brand is not only far effective than paid advertisement but importantly saves you sufficient amount of bills.
Most of the times it's not just the immediate rupee value that gets materialized, it is also the time saving and information access that can create a huge difference. For a new business owner who has a neighbour working with Sales Tax Department, he won't have to waste time in those initial trips to the department understanding formalities, eligibility and costs for registering a TIN number. Likewise, a person starting his e-commerce venture who has a college senior working as a web designer, will have enough information regarding costs, requirements and challenges for keeping an e-commerce web up and running. For a boutique owner based in Srinagar, information regarding availability, price and size of clothing material from a contact in Delhi or Surat over a phone call can help her in creating better offerings.
A business during its life needs help from people belonging to various external entities for smooth operations. For example a person running a simple restaurant depends on grocery stores, butchers, LPG vendors etc for supplies. He also depends on people from government bodies like PDD, PHE, SMC, Food Control Department, Weights and Measures Department, Sales Tax, Labor Department etc. In addition to these he also requires services from people like graphic designers for designing ads, people from newspaper and radio who carry his stories and promotions. He also depends on Bankers, Chartered Accountants and sometimes even on Lawyers. Internally his success is based on the capability of his chef, his team of waiters, office staff, his professional manager and a prompt housekeeping staff. And lastly, all the show that he is running depends on pleasing the most important element of his business i.e. his customers.
A close look at all these essential ingredients of success shows that they are all basically "people" who the restaurant owner has to deal with. From a famous Psychoanalyst-Sigmund Freud's point of view, a human is nothing but a bundle of emotions. The success of the interactions between the restaurant owner and the needed human elements, therefore, is determined by the effectiveness of the people's skill that the restaurant owner possesses. It doesn't matter how good his IQ is or how thick his qualifications are but what matters is how effective he is in utilizing his emotional intelligence in terms of maturity, flexibility, impulse control, empathy and persistence to handle all the people who matter for his business.
Different people have different set of contacts and creating a portfolio of right contacts is a matter of time and effort. World around you is full of people and meeting more and more people is the first step to up your game. Joining business clubs and attending business networking events regularly offer a wide opportunity to explore people and create valuable contacts. Never underestimate anybody and always endeavor to offer help, assistance, advice and support to people around. Although not a total guarantee, but those, who you have helped unconditionally in the past are very likely going to repay you in future at the time you need them the most.