Entrepreneurs: How They Win Opportunities

Posted on February 24th, 2019
Business Skills & Planning
Left to right: Mikie Monoketsi, Emmanuel Bonoko and Vumile Msweli.

From gyms to airport lounges, three South African entrepreneurs opened up about where they network, and give insight into how using your connections can lead to business opportunities.

Here are the entrepreneurs:

Why is networking is important for business owners?

Leads you to the right people – If it was not for networking I wouldn’t be here right now. By that I mean, when I decided to start with the spices, the laws regulating the industry did not allow me to manufacture the spices without the proper documentation. It was through networking at the local gym that I met someone who had the right documentation to help me start my business. – Monoketsi

Expands your social circle – People do business with people so connecting is critical. Networking widens your relational circle, therefore it’s invaluable. Relationships are platforms for doing business, leapfrogging your learning, sharing best practices, allows for customer interaction and drives growth. – Msweli

Leads to business opportunities – Networking assists in building relationships that turn into business opportunities and exposure. Through networking you can find possible mentors who can open business opportunities for you and make recommendations. – Bonoko

Where do you network the most?

Events and gyms are the perfect places for me. – Monoketsi

From the supermarket to conferences … I have found because of my grueling travel schedule that the most fruitful networking for me is at airport lounges. – Msweli

The gym, coffee shops, events like business seminars and even on social media. – Bonoko

Do you think there is a difference in how you network as a black entrepreneur in comparison to your other counterparts?

I focus on the end goal – Not really. I find that the best way is just to be honest with people and focus on your end goals rather than just focusing on things that are not moving you forward. – Monoketsi

Don’t be afraid to break the ice – Not necessarily, most people have the same anxiety about having a conversation with a complete of strangers across racial lines. I have found striking conversations and being interested in the other party is more beneficial than marketing my business and has served me well. I try to be present and authentic in my encounters. – Msweli

Deliver quality work and be credible – The challenges are that we must always work harder than our Caucasian counterparts and you will find that sometimes we get rejections or doubts from our very own black people. But I have mastered to deliver and build credibility that can’t be questioned. You can’t deny results and talent that is backed by hard work and ethics. – Bonoko

Advice for networking with people from different cultures.

Respect people – Respect is important and it is the basis of any conversation irrespective or culture or social standard. You also need to understand business communication techniques. – Monoketsi

Be considerate of cultural differences – Yes, tailor making your approach for different audiences is critical. Picking up cultural nuances and etiquette is critical whilst maintaining an authentic and respectful connection. This allows for your message to land without distractions of cultural faux pas. – Msweli

Any other tips or lessons for networking?

Respect others – People are people, keep that in mind. – Monoketsi

Be patient – I listen without the intention to sell. Instead to see how I can serve the interests of the person I am engaging. Networking is relationship building and isn’t always about the short-term benefits of a quick sale, so patience is key. – Msweli

Be clear and to the point – When you network be honest about yourself and your business. Do not waste people’s time when you do networking. Don’t comprise your values and beliefs in order to get ahead. – Bonoko