Networking is one of most important aspects of running a successful enterprise. It is not done solely to benefit or grow ones business. Instead, it stimulates your mind, expands your thinking and your horizon. Inspite of this know fact, it is believed that entrepreneurs find it extremely difficult to network due to either time constraints or behavioral traits and this is more evident in case of women entrepreneurs. . To give attention to this issue TiE Stree Shakti conducted a session on The why, how and when of networking on 29th August 09 at the Welingkar College, Matunga.
The session got a variety of strokes on networking from the well blended panelist consisting of Ms Asmitha Ray Sarkar- MD- IQ group, Mr Laxman Jain- Ex President, KVO, Ms. Mala Vazirani- Director, Transasia Biomedicals.
The seminar was opened by Mr Laxman Jain- Ex President, KVO, who has been working towards promoting education, career counseling, networking and guidance to students and has worked time and again towards women empowerment. He has sent over 700 students abroad who in turn keep in touch with each other. Students stay with allotted families and become a part of the network to serve the network in future.
However he pointed out that in a business model, entrepreneurs are scared to spill the beans due to various inhibitions and insecurities. Often, the entrepreneurs believe that if they voice their business plans they could be copied.
The session then continued with Mala Vazirani who went on to explain the importance of networking and human relations in business. This was perfectly explained with the example of her own company TransAsia, leaders in the diagnostic industry. The company was started by her husband Suresh with Rs 250 and today the company is a $450 million brand, with 900 employees across 30 countries. Their vision to transform Asia gave them a purpose to go beyond the basics of business and have encouraged them to value human relations and form trust-based relations with their partners, clients, customers, employees, government officials, accountants and anyone associated with the industry.
Mala very brilliantly said to sustain your business you need not have profits but you definitely need to have a purpose.
The podium was then shared by Ashmitha Ray Sarkar who briefed the audience with an interesting presentation titled “Networking or Not working”. She stated that it’s a process of developing and maintaining quality relationships that are mutually beneficial.
Networking is an on-going process and it could be personal and for practical purposes. Asmitha further touched upon topics like the reasons for networking, strategies of networking, secrets of good networking, efficient networking, and networking for shy people. She also pointed out a simple key for shy women entrepreneurs to network via intrapersonal mediums like the Internet and how efficient networking can save time.
She emphasized that every activity you do should be looked upon as an opportunity to network and should be a win-win situation for both parties involved.
Apart from this the workshop threw light upon the fact that how difficult it is for women to network. Women have to strike an excellent balance between their work and personal life. Fulfilling these dual responsibilities often keep them on their back foot when it comes to active networking. Women cannot socialize at late night dinner parties, they are usually shy to express their opinions/ideas with the fear of being mocked by their male-counterparts and sometimes restricted by general negative connotation attached to the word networking.
The key to overcome such constraints is efficient time management, thinking of innovative techniques and reinventing ways and means to balance professional and personal responsibilities. Some of the solutions suggested were network or socialize at home with your family being around or install the traditional social system of joint families. It is very essential for a women entrepreneur to reflect on her needs, understand her potential and always aim to move ahead without being affected by societal pressures.
Manak Singh, Executive Director, TiE Mumbai summarized the seminar by highlighting the thread of thoughts. Women have a natural flair for networking. It’s just a matter of getting in touch with the right person and at the right time and apply the same acumen in business. It is necessary for all entrepreneurs to make a conscious effort to overcome fears and inhibitions to master the art of networking. Networking is like a long-term investment and an effective network is built over a period of time.