Signing up for an MBA or taking a course in project management, finance, leadership development or another business-related area of interest is one of the best ways to grow your business and personal networks.
In his book Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi says he learnt that real networking was about finding ways to make other people more successful. It was about working hard to give more than you get. If you do something to make someone else more successful, he says, they’re more likely to value your relationship with them, and the more relationships you have with value in them, the more valuable you become, not only to yourself, but to employers, customers, partners and so on.
Become a Networking Whizz
Our society has become very good at asking: ‘What’s in it for me?’ Most networkers look for others to pass them referrals, but successful networkers are always looking to help others first.
Don’t keep score, Ferrazzi advises. If someone calls you up and asks for a favour that you can easily accomplish, do it and don’t look back. If you are going to take the time to connect with somebody, you should be willing to try to make that person successful. If they succeed, you succeed. He also makes the point that networking is largely useless unless you have goals.
Networking experts note that you should begin reaching out to others and building your network of contacts before you need anything from them. Don’t try to suddenly build a network when your business is about to close down — it simply won’t work.
Here are some simple ways to start building a network that’s meaningful:
- Join community groups that interest you
- Take leadership positions in hobby or business groups that interest you
- Enrol in a class on a topic of interest
- Become part of business groups in
- Join an entrepreneurial network
Often business owners go to an event to network and end up making the mistake of selling. They walk in with the mindset of a hunter instead of a farmer. Networking is about cultivating business relationships, not gaining customers. If business owners walk into a networking event thinking ’look at all of these potential customers‘, they’ll never receive referrals. Ferrazzi calls that ‘being a networking jerk’.
Networking and Higher Learning
Higher learning institutions like the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) host business and social functions to create a climate for discussion and interaction. Attendees are brought together by the desire to build business relationships, gain further understanding of the fast-paced business environment and share best practices of innovation and leadership.
Community website MBAconnect.net is for MBA alumni, current students and faculty from all the business schools in South Africa. MBAconnect facilitates networking, events, job opportunities, knowledge-sharing and more. Members can interact with other MBA students and alumni, market their services, build their brand, find job opportunities, and share ideas and challenges.
Sam Paddock, MD of GetSmarter, an online education company that works with universities and industry experts to present courses throughout South Africa, says people learn best in strong communities. GetSmarter strongly promotes communication between students. “By requiring our students to interact on our discussion forums, we encourage them to build relationships with their fellow students. As the community becomes stronger, so too does the students’ engagement with their learning materials. Paddock says this is particularly important in distance learning programmes. “Motivation and engagement in distance learning is inherently challenging. By creating a strong community, our students become more engaged in their learning activities.
“We have been able to achieve phenomenal engagement on our forums. Some of our courses have over 6 000 discussion forum postings from 120 students in a 10-week period.”
Paddock says networking online is simple. “Just start writing. It’s the only way people will discover your interests and begin to engage with you. Browse through your fellow students’ profiles and start conversations with people who have something in common with you. It could be that you live in the same area or that you share a common interest. People are most open to interacting with you when they are aware of some common ground.”
Keeping in Touch
Once you have a connection with someone, it’s important to get their contact information. As you talk to people, keep track of their names, titles, emails, phone numbers, organisations, meeting dates, and key points of information and advice. You’ll need this later when you are no longer studying with them but still want to maintain a good relationship. Remember, these are the people who may be able to pave the way for you in future when you need a recommendation or an introduction.
One of Ferrazzi’s central ideas — from which his book takes its title — is that a meal provides an excellent opportunity to connect with someone. If you’re eating alone, he says, you’re missing out. He suggests mixing and matching by inviting multiple people to eat with you from different parts of your social network, which can help build new connections and bring hidden ones to the forefront. This is a particularly attractive option for people who are studying further as campuses provide the perfect environment for socialising.
Because networking requires you to socialise, make yourself interesting. No one wants to spend time with a boring person. Beyond keeping up with current events and having a point of view on current issues, Ferrazzi suggests asking seemingly stupid questions, always being open to learning something new and trying new things, and taking time out for holidays and other activities that grow your mind.
Avoid being a networking jerk
Here are Keith Ferrazzi’s six rules for making sure you network well:
- Don’t schmooze. Have something to say, say it with meaning, and focus on establishing a few good connections than spending your time surfing the room.
- Don’t rely on gossip. It paints a picture of untrustworthiness.
- Be willing to give something away. Think of bloggers who give away content to their readers freely.
- Don’t treat those under you poorly. Ever.
- Be transparent. If you want to meet someone and are happy to meet them, say so.
- Don’t be too efficient. Make genuine, individual connections. If you’re going to take the time to touch base with a contact, write to that person individually, don’t just include them on a big ol’ email to hundreds of people at once that starts off with “Dear friend!”
Think Global, Act Local: Business Education For Disruptors, Innovators And Entrepreneurs
As one of the largest and most prestigious business schools in Africa, JBS is focused on producing visionary leaders and managers who are geared for progress across the continent, but connected to the world at large.
Disruption. Innovation. The fourth industrial revolution. These aren’t just platitudes at the Johannesburg Business School (JBS), they’re the bedrock of the various courses and programmes on offer.
“We are authentically African, as we believe there are huge opportunities in both South Africa and Africa at large, but we are also looking at the global landscape. We have an incredible opportunity to educate and mentor the future generation of Africa’s leaders and managers by providing them with the tools they need to be true innovators and disruptors,” says Professor Lyal White, Senior Director of the JBS at the University of Johannesburg.
“Day-to-day business in Africa requires leaders to focus on — and deliver — development with a direct impact on communities. The challenges we face present an opportunity. The fourth industrial revolution requires soft skills and humanism in leading and mentoring for competitive and progressive business performance. This is particularly relevant in Africa.”
Taking on a new era
The JBS believes it has an important role to play in future-proofing Africa and her leaders, and is building programmes and a professional teaching staff with this specific goal in mind.
“The scope of the fourth industrial revolution is far beyond its digital or information counterparts,” says Professor White.
“It’s a systemic transformation that impacts civil society, governance structures, human identity, economics and manufacturing, while integrating human beings and machines.
“The underlying technologies for this shift are artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, nanotechnology, biotechnology, the Internet of Things (IoT), Cloud computing, autonomous vehicles and 3D printing.”
JBS sees the humanities as playing a critical role in developing the creative and critical thinking that will be essential ingredients to success in Industry 4.0.
“UJ has the highest concentration of staff with PhDs in AI on our continent and we are more than ready to tackle this new era,” he says.
“At an unprecedented level, the global environment demands innovative business leaders with entrepreneurial spirit and government officials who can lead African businesses to succeed in Africa. With our focus on providing global management thought leadership and deep African insights, JBS prepares students for that role, giving them a critical edge for success.”
Depth and creativity
Given the opportunities and challenges presented by doing business on the continent, the JBS is developing and delivering bespoke programmes, designed with a keen focus on depth and creativity.
“We’re taking an alternative approach to the norm while ensuring we deliver on international standards,” says Professor White. “Africa needs world-class business education with a local flavour to develop the management competencies we need and to build excellence. This is the model and approach JBS has taken.
“Fortunately, we attract a great diversity of students who have the drive to succeed, confidence, a strong record of triumph and a burning desire to advance the evolution of business in our society,” he adds.
Bringing world-class education to Africa
“Our offering includes undergraduate diplomas and degrees, postgraduate degrees and programmes, and will soon include a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree. On the cards are also online programmes, blended learning and unique contact programmes with delegates from across the continent and partners from around the world.”
JBS as a disruptor in the executive education category has two goals: Designing programmes to match the demand of an emerging market, and reshaping existing programmes to meet the demand of customers as their needs evolve.
“As a late entrant to the business school market, JBS will be agile and adaptable in order to stay relevant and take advantage of the disrupted higher education environment by offering business skills for disruptors,” concludes Professor White.
“Conventional approaches and standard business acumen do not work. Preparing individuals and organisations for this context requires programmes with a difference, which is why we’re including an MBA with a difference in our offering going forward.”
Upcoming Executive education programmes and Masterclasses in 2019:
- Project Management (26 – 27 Feb)
Become proficient at project management. An essential workplace skill that can boost the impact you have on any organisation.
- Finance for Non-Financial Managers (4 – 8 Mar)
Expand your overview of financial performance from a commercial perspective across management functions.
- Storytelling and Creativity (1 – 2 Apr)
The power of the narrative is becoming more recognised across leadership disciplines. Implementing creativity in storytelling will enhance your leadership presence.
- Negotiation Skills (9 – 10 Apr)
Develop your negotiation skills to create more effective partnerships and better results for your organisation.
- Implementing Strategy (1 Feb)
Delve into the core aspects of implementing strategic deliverables and cascading these across your teams.
- Coaching and Mentoring Centre of Excellence: Session 1 (7 Feb)
Access a network of leaders and coaches to enhance your personal growth.
- Marketing Series: Session 1 (13 Feb)
Leverage marketing tools and practices to enhance your clients’ experiences.
- Generating Shared Value (21 Feb)
Implement practices focussed on business with the purpose to generate sustainable value for your organisation.
- Innovation Series (12 Mar)
Learn about innovative success stories in the context of industry 4.0 and how to prepare and future-proof your organisation for this digital revolution.
- HR Series: Session 1 (26 Mar)
The HR Series will address key issues facing HR practitioners with robust debate and suggestions to enhance this function.
English: The Language Of Oppression Or Opportunity?
We offer a wide range of courses specifically aimed at professionals who want to enhance their professional English communication skills. Some of our most popular courses are.
Having to communicate professionally in English sometimes strikes fear into the hearts of many South Africans irrespective of their gender, age or business field; the mere thought of presenting to a group of colleagues in English or submitting a report to your manager is daunting and nerve wracking. If you are one of the many, do not be embarrassed; you are in good company.
Despite South Africa’s recognition of 12 official languages and its embracing of multilingualism, English continues to be the dominant language within schools and workplaces and competence is considered a pathway to upward mobility and professional opportunities. While it is evident that one requires good English skills to excel academically and professionally, little attention has been paid to improving the English proficiency of South Africans. This may in part be because English is an official language and it is assumed that all South Africans can speak English well. However, the differences in the type of English one is exposed to and the difference between fluency and accuracy are overlooked.
South Africans are unique; we are multilingual, vibrant and dynamic individuals who utilise a wide variety of linguistic resources when we communicate. It is not odd to find us communicating in multiple languages at the same time; we code switch when we cannot remember the correct English word or when we want to express a thought accurately but cannot find an appropriate English word and we do it effortlessly and automatically. These skills set us apart as innovative language users as we mesh and blend languages in our common goal to communicate accurately.
Unfortunately, these skills do not hold us in good stead in the workplace where standard and ‘proper’ English is required and suddenly we lose confidence and nerve. We become more conscious of how much we do not know and question what we do know. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and paralysed by fear when you have to communicate solely in English and are suddenly evaluated against monolingual, Western, middle class norms. Furthermore, it is easy to assume if we incorporate more complex words and use lengthy phrases as well as adopt an American or British accent, our English language skills will suddenly improve. This is a myth; do not believe it!
In order to communicate effectively and appropriately, one needs to be cognisant of the following factors: the audience, the purpose of the message, the message itself, the grammatical accuracy of the message and the tone of the message. Simply put, one has to ensure that the meaning of the message is always concise and coherent and is phrased in a manner that can be easily understood by the reader or listener. Secondly, one has to ensure that the grammatical accuracy of the message is maintained; editing and proofreading are essential in order to win the reader’s or listener’s confidence in what you are communicating.
Here at Wits Language School, we are passionate about improving the language skills of South African second language learners and our courses are especially designed to help you improve your English language skills. We offer a wide range of courses specifically aimed at professionals who want to enhance their professional English communication skills. Some of our most popular courses are:
|Communicative Grammar||Are you interested in improving your editing skills and English grammar knowledge?
Join our Communicative Grammar course.
|English Speaking and Pronunciation||Do you want to improve your pronunciation and gain more confidence speaking in English?
Join our English Speaking and Pronunciation course.
|Business Writing||Are you interested in improving your proposal or minutes writing skills?
Join our Business Writing Skills course
|Presentation Skills||Do you want to give presentations that are dynamic and interesting?
Join our Presentation Skills course.
|Report Writing||Do you want to write reports that are coherent and well organised?
Join our Report Writing course.
|English for Critical Thinking in Business||Are you interested in improving your critical thinking skills and becoming a strategic thinker?
Join our Critical Thinking in Business course.
Climb the ladder to success and apply today. Applications for 2019 are now open. Wits Language School, changing lives and opening doors.
Read next: Tips To Becoming Fluent
“Free” Online Courses Versus Interactive Classroom Courses
Online learning should be considered a supplement and extension, rather than a replacement, to traditional classroom learning.
The Internet is currently abuzz with advertisements for “free” online language courses and online education. While developments in technology have undoubtedly created opportunities for more people to access education, the question still remains as to whether it is actually possible to learn a language solely with the use of an online platform. Whilst there are numerous advantages to using online platforms, there are equally as many disadvantages.
Online platforms are limited in their capacity to support group discussions, as well as the engagement with language facilitators and tutors. Many platforms are also unable to cope with the thousands of students that try to join online discussions. Language learners benefit greatly from human interaction within a classroom. Mark Edmundson (2012), an English professor at the University of Virginia, argued that online education creates a “monologue and not a real dialogue” in the learning environment.
Classroom environments allow learners to express their opinions, participate in debates, and engage in face-to-face interaction with classmates and their instructor.
Language facilitators are responsible for explaining material, answering questions and guiding learning based on students’ needs and language levels in real time. From an online perspective, this resource becomes diluted, as often there exists back and forth communication between the student and the facilitator over an extended period of time. Within a classroom environment, learners are immersed in the language and encouraged to speak. Learning takes place in a pro-active way with a balance of learner-facilitator interaction and group work. Language learners receive undivided attention from the facilitator, and the pace and content of the tuition is thus tailored to the learner accordingly.
Two of the benefits of online courses are that they offer flexibility and convenient accessibility; however, they also require a greater amount of self-discipline, reading and time-management skills. Online courses tend to make it easier to procrastinate and they create a sense of isolation. These elements are not conducive to successful language learning. Motivation levels are likely to decrease when using online platforms, as learners have no real external influences to help keep them motivated and inspired.
The quality and accreditation of online language courses is also a concern to most learners, as many online courses lack valid accreditation and certification. It is crucial to enrol in a course that provides legitimate information and that is accredited with a relevant board or organisation. A course that does not provide valid accreditation will serve no purpose or advantage to the learner.
Wits Language School was established in 1997 and forms part of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over the last 19 years, the school has built a reputation for providing high-quality language services and short learning programmes in a dynamic and international learning environment. Wits Language School endorses interactive teaching styles, uses up-to-date teaching methods, and employs experienced and highly qualified teachers who are mother-tongue speakers to assist all participants in their quest to learn a second language.
Online learning should be considered a supplement and extension, rather than a replacement, to traditional classroom learning.
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