Networking practices in Gauteng businesses : an analysis and proposed framework
De Klerk, Saskia
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Networking is more than a natural inclination for a person to surround him or herself with people they already know, get to know, want or have to know. A successful network, whether for personal or business purposes, consists of people with integrity, the necessary and expected ability, commitment to the relationship, as well as trust and mutual respect. This personal journey is influenced by facilitating and limiting influences. Every network is as unique as the individuals that participate in the process. Networking is multidimensional and to gain access to the interweave relationships, the research included qualitative research in the form of five focus group discussions, and quantitative research in the form of an e-mail questionnaires. Gauteng business managers and owners were targeted through a purposive and then snowball samples. The goal of the study was to analyse the networking practices of Gauteng businesses and to develop a proposed networking framework. The proposed framework is supposed to serve as a starting point for individuals or managers to adapt to their needs or to achieve the business's specific objectives. The most important findings of this study include: Networking should include the right balance of people with the right connections, skills, ability, knowledge and opportunity. Networking is based on the natural tendency that people want to be part of a network. Networks consists of interweaved relationships on different levels. Networking is driven by energy, to achieve a specific outcome, goal or to exchange something of value. Networking consists of elements, such as trust, reciprocity, credibility, value exchanges, commitment and interdependency. Networking is a process with different phases. A networking framework was developed for networking efforts in business. The contribution of this framework is to acknowledge the value of having a network and by assessing the value added by the network a networking strategy can be implemented and maintained. This might lead to a multiplying effect of an abundance of relationships that share, increase profit and efficiency. Some of the most important recommendations include: Managers should be informed about the importance of relationships in business. The proposed framework should be used as a basis for networking implementation and development. Strategic networking should be focussed on the development of relationships and to measure the value of networking to lead to a competitive advantage and a multiplying effect. Networking rules should be clear and transparent for responsible networking.