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Networking can be very daunting and terrifying especially if you do not enjoy meeting people. However there is no option if you have to build your business. You need to meet people because these same people can help you build your business by putting you in touch with the right people who can assist you steer your business in the right direction. By networking you can meet people who might end up mentoring you. Networking should not just be a matter of exchanging business cards or shaking hands and say a few words. It’s more than that.
To network you need to get out of your comfort zone and go and meet people. You can either join a sport, golf club, a gym, a business association in your neighbourhood or join a hobby where you are likely to meet people of similar interests. Networking is ideal when you meet people in a social setting where they will be relaxed and you can easily strike up a good conversation.
Networking is a two way communication so when you meet someone, you want to know that person and you also would like them to know you. You start with basic introductions – like introducing yourself, your name, your company, your position and you can then delve deeper into talking about the products or services your company offers and other pertinent business issues.
This will also then opens up discussions about that person’s business. From such discussions you can pick the needs of the other person, you might also ask about who makes buying decisions in that business. You need such information if eventually you have to do business with that person. In all these conversations you need to be a good listener and you need to ask pertinent questions. At the end of the discussions get the contact details of the person.
To develop a meaningful relationship make sure you are not intending to be the beneficiary only but you should present yourself as a problem solver. The other person should benefit from this relationship also. It’s important that you follow-up your first meeting with either a call or another meeting to cement the relationship. Usually you can’t gauge whether the relationship is worth continuing in the first meeting. So your initial meeting is to get to know each other and get contact details.
As you exchange contact information and business cards, quickly jot down notes about what you spoke about with that person to help you when following up later. Always appreciate every connection you make by thanking them.
To benefit from networking you need to plan what you want to achieve from a meeting, an upcoming conference or an event. If you are going for a conference check who is attending and then go to LinkedIn or that person’s company website and get information prior to meeting people who interest you. You could then actually follow up with those people via other social media like Twitter or Facebook. In this way you are already starting a relationship which you could cement when you meet the person face-t0-face at the conference.
Make sure as you network you surround yourself with smarter people because this will push you to become better. They say “Iron sharpens iron.” You need people who will impart change into your life or business.
In order to benefit from networking or from attending networking events you need to adopt a systematic approach to networking. Always evaluate your current network to identify those connections that are missing and then you selectively choose the events most likely to be attended by the types of people you are looking for. Target such people and speak to them and see how they can help your business grow, either directly or through a referral. You need to draw up a long-term plan like you do in every business activity. Draw up a networking strategy. Your main goal would be to grow your business through your circle of contacts and in the process they also should be benefiting from relating with you.
The old way of networking, face-to-face interaction, is still key in business, but however you can use social media to find new contacts. You can use Facebook, LinkedIn or other social media by joining groups with like-minded people.
When you have met someone at an event, as you converse with them, try to identify three types of needs as explained by Aaron Carrano, programme manager at Google. These needs include latent needs – needs which customers aren’t aware of yet; direct needs – which customers inform you of; and assumed needs – which you can deduce. As you listen carefully, you can align what that person needs with what you can offer. In your conversation you can now emphasise those needs that you can offer and that are needed by the other person.
After every encounter try to connect with the people you have just met on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. That way, you’ll get updates about what they are doing. Make sure you create a list of the contacts you’ve made, including important information about what you can offer one other.
Meeting someone new can be intimidating but by being prepared, being an active listener and maintaining a lasting relationship will make networking a worthwhile exercise. Networking can be fun and help you in generating more business.

About the author
Stewart Jakarasi is a business & financial strategist and a lecturer in business strategy and performance management. He provides advisory and guidance on leadership, strategy and execution, preparation of business plans and on how to build and sustain high-performing organisations.

For assistance in implementing some of the concepts discussed in these articles please contact him on the following contacts: or +266 58881062 or on WhatsApp +266 62110062

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LEC to switch off households over debts



MASERU – The Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC) will from Tuesday next week begin switching off clients who owe it money.

The LEC issued a seven-day ultimatum to all customers who owe it on Tuesday last week. The deadline ends on Monday.

It is expected that the LEC will begin switching off households that have defaulted.

The state-owned power company, however, is not going to touch any government department or business entities that owe it on grounds that they are in payment negotiations.

The LEC move comes barely two weeks after it cut electricity supplies to the Water and Sewerage Company (WASCO) thus causing it to fail to pump water to communities countrywide for more than two days.

The LEC says it is owed close to M200 million by government departments, businesses and individuals.

The LEC spokesman, Tšepang Ledia, told thepost that the government and the businesses will not have their electricity cut because they are in negotiations.

“We are in negotiations with the government and businesses and hopefully they will pay,” Ledia said.

“We advise the ordinary people to pay their debts before the 20th of March 2023 or else we cut the services,” he said.

The LEC says it is running short of funds for its daily operations.

In December last year the company increased power tariffs by 7.9 percent on both energy and maximum demand charges across all customer categories for the Financial Year 2022/23.

Last week the LEC boss, Mohato Seleke, said postpaid consumers and sundry debtors owe the company M169.4 million.

He said unless the debtors pay he will be unable to buy electricity from ’Muela Hydropower Project, Eskom in South Africa and Mozambique’s EDM.

This, he said, could cause serious load shedding in the country and could be devastating for businesses.

Seleke said the LEC spends M630 million monthly to buy electricity.

“If postpaid consumers do not settle their debts this could prevent the LEC from being able to buy electricity which can lead the country to encounter load-shedding,” Seleke said.

Seleke said collecting debt from government department ministries was a challenge as there is an understanding that since LEC is a state-owned company, it will continue supplying government agencies with electricity and they will settle their bills when they have funds to do so.

Seleke said the LEC has lost M21 million to vandalism during this financial year.

Relebohile Tšepe

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Bumper payout for former mineworkers



MASERU – AT least 11 316 current as well as former mine workers are set for a bumper payout after Tshiamiso Trust began disbursing the first billion Maloti to workers who are suffering from silicosis and tuberculosis.

The payment comes two years after Tshiamiso Trust began processing claims for the historical M5 billion settlement agreement between mineworkers and six gold mines in South Africa.

Speaking at the payment announcement in Maseru last week, the Trust’s CEO, Lusanda Jiya, said it has been two years since they officially began accepting claims.

“Our people come to work every day with the mission of impacting lives for the better, and the first billion rand paid out to over 11 000 families is just the beginning,” Jiya said.

“We know that there is no compensation that will ever be enough to undo the suffering endured by mine workers and their families,” he said.

“However, we are committed to deliver our mandate and ensure that every family that is eligible for compensation receives it.”

Jiya said the Trust is limited both in terms of the time in which they can operate, and the extent to which they can assist those seeking compensation.

Broadly speaking, the eligibility criteria include among others that the mineworker must have worked at one of the qualifying gold mines between March 12, 1965 and December 10, 2019.

Secondly, living mineworkers must have permanent lung damage from silicosis or TB and deceased mine workers representatives must have evidence that proves that they (the deceased) died from TB or Silicosis.

Tshiamiso Trust has a lifespan of 12 years, ending in February 2031.

Over 111 000 claims have been received to date, through offices in South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, eSwatini, and Mozambique.

The Trust is working with stakeholders in these countries and others to mobilise its efforts and expand operations.

The history of silicosis in South Africa goes back to the late 1880’s when the first gold mines began operations.

The gold was stored and locked in quartz, a special rock that contains large amounts of silica.

Crystallised silica particles can cause serious respiratory damage if inhaled.

In the earlier days of gold mining, dust control, health and safety standards and the use of PPE (personal protective equipment) were not as advanced as they are today.

Tshiamiso Trust was established in 2020 to give effect to the settlement agreement reached between six mining companies.

The companies are African Rainbow Minerals, Anglo American South Africa, AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony Gold, Sibanye Stillwater and Gold Fields.

The settlement agreement was reached and made after a ruling by the Johannesburg High Court as a result of a historic class action by former and current mineworkers against the six gold mines.

Justice for Miners is a coalition of interested parties in the mining sector launched at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg in 2020.

The Johannesburg High Court approved the setting up of the Tshiamiso Trust to facilitate payment by the companies to affected miners.

Keith Chapatarongo

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Farmers cry over cost of livestock feed



MASERU – Lehlohonolo Mokhethi is a farmer who has been running a successful poultry business, thanks to a small loan he got from a local bank.

He now has 300 chickens.

He says his vision is to rear 5 000 chickens by 2025 and employ 30 youths. But he is now grappling with a new challenge: the ever increasing cost of chicken feed.

That is threatening the viability of his business.

“The biggest challenge is that food prices increase every day, feeding is expensive,” Mokhethi said.

“It is quite difficult to make profit in business if each and every day food prices increase. Today I am buying a bag of food with a certain amount then the next day the price has increased,” he says.

“Our customers fail dismally to understand that food has increased and the Chinese are taking our market because they sell at a low price thus I run at a loss.”

Last week, a top attorney in Maseru who is also a prominent farmer, Tiisetso Sello-Mafatle, called a meeting for farmers to discuss these challenges.

She says the government must regulate the prices of livestock feed.

That is critical if the farming business is to succeed, she says.

Attorney Sello-Mafatle says farmers must come up with a structure for livestock feed prices which they would present to the government for gazetting.

“We should state our regulations and give them to the government to make everything easy for both parties because we cannot wait for the government to make regulations for us,” Sello-Mafatle says.

She adds that “farmers should be bullish about what they want and never have fear endorsing new things”.

“I will not be challenged or cry (because of) what life throws at me but I will cry when things are not happening the right way,” she says.

Mafatle says farmers need to know who they are and know the capabilities they have.

“This will help a farmer in becoming the best in any field they are in once they are confident about themselves,” she says.

Karabo Lijo, another participant, said they have to influence the cost of inputs in agriculture, especially livestock feed.

“We have to go back to cost-price analysis where as farmers we are able to derive the selling price and the break-even point in our production,” Lijo said.

“We can also derive the stable or constant mark-ups on our products,” he said.

“We need to do research to increase the ability to produce byproducts which are likely to have the longest shelve life,” he said.

The meeting urged farmers to diversify their products by introducing such things as mushroom farming. They said mushrooms can grow very well in Lesotho due to its favourable climate.

The farmers also demanded that there should be regulations on how land can be sold or borrowed in Lesotho.

Tholoana Lesenya and Alice Samuel

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