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Does your network work?

At a recent networking meeting I joined a conversation between two well-known businessmen – both run profit-making enterprises. One was telling the other about the importance of networking and how it had helped him – the discussion was sparked when a new member, present in that huddle, wondered aloud whether such meetings offered any benefit beyond the opportunity to hobnob, over a drink, with others in their peer group.

So, this businessman, who was formerly a Civil Servant, spoke about a time when his business was just taking root. Revenue was still not steady and orders were hard to come by. They were spending a lot but getting paltry returns – production close to capacity, salaries and bills to pay but business far from rosy.

To add to his misery China manufacturers were dumping cheaper products in the Indian market. Our narrator friend said that the writing was on the wall for his company. If something wasn’t done immediately they would’ve been forced to wind-up.

He decided to make a trip to Delhi to impress upon the Industry Ministry the need to impose a duty on imports in order to save domestic production. But he did not know where to begin because there he knew nobody in that ministry. However, there was a batch-mate of his working as Secretary in another department.

Without making any promises this friend took our businessman along to work, at the Central Secretariat. The idea was to discuss how and where they should start the process.

A few minutes after they settled done in the Civil Service friend’s office a colleague walked in to discuss some routine business matter. Our friend was introduced to the visitor and the reason for his visit was stated. Immediately this gentleman said he knew the Industry Secretary and offered to arrange the introduction. Our friend was in a state of shock, but was grateful too for this incredible stroke of luck that came his way. He had got more than he bargained for just by tagging along with his friend.

The Industry Secretary listened patiently to our businessman and saw merit in the request for anti-dumping duty. But he needed solid proof to put up the case to the Industries Minister. He told the businessman to bring evidence to substantiate his claim.

Our friend ran back to his contact’s office and stated what had happened. Now it was this person’s turn to help. He used the Government network of embassies and gathered the relevant information over the weekend. The meeting with the Industry Secretary had taken place on a Friday and by the following Monday the businessman had a solid Case Study (supported by hard facts) to present to the Secretary for building a case to impose import duty.

The Industry Secretary received the document  with utter astonishment – he was shocked to see such a robust case built up over the weekend. But he soon realized how the information was gathered and gave a big smile. He told our friend to leave the information with him and asked for time to work on it. He gave no assurance, nor did he even offer any word of encouragement or support.

But within two weeks of his returning from Delhi there was a letter delivered at his office with a Government of India seal on it. It was the typical low quality government stationery, he said. But inside was information that turned the fortune of his business. The letter contained a Government Order to impose duty on import of products in his category. He and his business were saved.

Our narrator friend said that it was a chance meeting in his friend’s office in Delhi and his friend’s ability to use Government machinery to gather information at short notice that saved the day for him.

He summed up by saying that such networking meetings are crucial for the success of our business. What do you think? Do you see benefit in networking?

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The author, Jayadev Menon, has his own Business Consulting & Training practice, AKSH People Transformation.  To know more about his Consulting, Training and Coaching solutions visit http://www.akshworld.com or write to jayadev.menon@akshworld.com

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  1. June 10, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    Networking is definitely important but equally important is the prudence about using which part of the network and when, right?

    • JayadevM
      June 10, 2013 at 5:47 pm

      Hi Jayashree,

      Welcome back. Where have you been?

      Thank you for reading and for sharing this thought.

      Yes, knowing whom to use for what purpose is important. Don’t ask a big contact to help you resolve a minor issue.

  2. June 10, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    If I were to do something out of the way, I’d rather do it for an acquaintance than a stranger. Apparently, the net works.

    • JayadevM
      June 10, 2013 at 5:44 pm

      Thank you for reading, Umashankar, and for tolerating all the errors.

      I had posted the raw text, without any proof-reading. Made the changes only now.

      I agree with the logic of relying on an acquaintance rather than some unknown entity.

  3. BIJU KRISHNAN
    June 10, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    Networking may give an impression of making friends/acquaintance with an intention of making use of it sometime in future. An acknowledgement of the fact that everyone of us even the most successful among us reach there with support from others starting with parents, teachers, friends and so on will make the acquaintance / friendship all the more genuine and long lasting.

    • JayadevM
      June 10, 2013 at 6:11 pm

      Hi Biju

      You said it!

      I have only covered one aspect of networking in this article – there is a lot more to be said on the subject. You have used some of the major words ….. genuine, long-term, acknowledgment.

      Will cover some or all of them in other articles.

      Regards!

  4. June 11, 2013 at 1:29 am

    Networking definitely works. It just adds value to one’s competency both in long- and short-term. It also makes a person more social and approachable.

    • JayadevM
      June 11, 2013 at 4:39 am

      HI, Aamjunta!

      It sure does. Thank you for visiting my blog.

  5. June 12, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    You said it Jay!! Brilliant read as usual!!

    • JayadevM
      June 12, 2013 at 7:21 pm

      Thank you, Jamy.

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