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Why 'Your Network is Your Net Worth' is More Than Just a Catchy Phrase

IMP 2020 Prize-Giving (pictured with Tumi (mentee) and Mrs Mpono Mosaase (board member)

In 2019, I had it my heart to start a mentorship program called the Inspire Mentorship Program (IMP). Having had a few requests for mentorship, it occurred to me that as an individual, my capacity to mentor others is quite limited as I don't have an infinite amount of time available, and even if I did, there are only so many people that one person can reach. It occurred to me that I could create a platform / forum to connect seasoned professionals who had the time and energy to provide mentorship, with young professionals who were looking for mentors. My role, I decided, would be to design a structure for the program that would benefit both the mentors and mentees and remove the administrative burden from the mentors in order to incentivise them to give of their time willingly. Once I had committed to this program, I wasted no time in reaching out to my network to find mentors and advertised on social media platforms to attract mentees. Within a few weeks I had close to 20 mentors who had committed to being part of the program - all of them made up of some close friends, colleagues in various organisations and referrals from some of my friends and colleagues. In January 2020, we kicked off the program with an induction and activation session for the mentors. To make the session powerful, I invited one of my friends, a Forbes 30 under 30 finalist, to be a keynote speaker at the session to motivate the mentors. Throughout the year, I would reach out to my network to find Board Members for the program, to invite some as speakers in the various group mentorship sessions that we hosted in the program, and some of them facilitated the skills session we hosted (data-driven decision-making, coding, design-thinking etc). At the year-end function for the 2020 cohort, one of my closest friends MC'd the event. Between 2020 and 2022, we would reach more than 150 professionals (both mentors and mentees) and would grow the program into various cohorts (Accounting & Finance Cohort, Legal Cohort and a general Cohort). This, in a nutshell, is a story that demonstrates the power of my network.

Two questions have recently been gnawing at my mind as I thought about networking as it pertains to us as African professionals and entrepreneurs. Firstly, do we really understand the power and value that is within our networks? Secondly, are we really making the best use of this power - and ensuring that it translates not only to professional success but also to building value for the society in which we live.

What is the value of our networks?

I believe that sometimes the phrase Your Network is Your Net-worth is misconstrued to mean or imply that we should surround ourselves with high-profile people so that we can get opportunities from being affiliated or associated with them. I don't believe that this is what the true meaning of this phrase is, and this is certainly not how I have applied it in my life.

What the value of my networks means to me is that each and every person I know has something valuable to offer, and that if I am intentional in engaging with people in such a way that I unearth what it is they have to offer, then we can mutually benefit from our respective offerings. This means much more than just surrounding oneself with a certain type of people. It means really being intentional in seeing the value in the people around us - even in those who may be unassuming - and also helping people see value in themselves where they may be failing to. In this way, we don't have to manufacture value by aligning only with certain types of people, but we can benefit from the authentic value of those around us. While living in Lesotho, I would half-jokingly encourage our mentees to be intentional in the conversations they strike up even with people they sit next to in the taxi because they never know what mutually beneficial engagement they could have with the person sitting next to them.

Our networks are valuable because we all need each other

We are all gifted differently, and we all bring different perspectives, skills and ideas to the table - and therefore, as individuals, we cannot reach our full potential without tapping into the gifts of those around us and without lending our gifts to our communities. This means that the idea of finding value in our networks is not exploitative or egotistic. It is actually a humble recognition that we cannot succeed without the help of those around us, and that we cannot build anything meaningful without the participation of other people. It also means that we should have the humility to employ our gifts and resources in service of the people within our networks, instead of hoarding what we have to offer.

"But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have not need of you"; nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you". - 1 Cor 12:20-21

In what ways can we tap into the power of our networks to grow our careers as professionals and entrepreneurs?

The power of our networks lies not in the mere existence of networks, but in us having the wisdom and capability to translate those networks into career or entrepreneurial value. In this blog post I share in detail how I have benefited from my network professionally and in my leadership journey. I also share how I have been intentional in contributing to my networks, and I share tips on how other professionals and entrepreneurs can do the same to achieve growth and success.

How can we think about the power of networks in having societal impact?

Sometimes when we look at the challenges that are around us, in our immediate communities, in our organisations or in society - we can feel a bit overwhelmed. Especially if we limit our thinking to "what can I do about the problems around me". This is because we are limited in what we can achieve by ourselves. However, if we are to think about the impact we could have if each person were to come up with solutions for different aspects of the same problem, or what we can achieve if we were to pool our collective knowledge, skills and resources - then the problems may seem much less insurmountable.

It is true that the people who are skilled at connecting the dots of the infinite worth of their networks are the ones who not only achieve personal and professional success, but who also run impactful businesses and have impactful initiatives that contribute to solving some of societies' challenges.

This means that if we really understood the power and value that is within our networks, we would put much more effort than we currently are in translating that power and value into tangible worth.

Therefore, the challenge for this week is to take some time to look around us and to ask ourselves some of the following questions:

  1. What perspective am I missing in the value and worth of my network?

  2. How can I expand my network in order to expose myself to more value?

  3. How is my inability to tap into this power limiting my personal and professional success (if at all)

  4. Am I being intentional enough in providing value to my networks?

  5. How can I use the power of networks in achieving my professional and leadership goals this year?

Further recommended reading:

If you ever found yourself rolling your eyes at the mere thought or idea of networking, I recommend this article from HBR which discusses how most people have an aversion to networking (therefore, it's not just an African or a woman problem to dislike networking for self-advancement). However, it provides strategies of how to overcome this common dislike for networking.

1 Comment

Jan 29

The ability to tap into your network can create so many opportunities. Equally important is nurturing and also pouring into it. I remember the event so vividly and the impact the mentorship program had.


Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I am a passionate leader, accomplished professional and a mentor. I believe that nation-building depends on how well we build people. Therefore, my mission is to contribute to the personal, professional and leadership development of people to empower them to reach their highest potential.

I do this through a mentorship program that I founded and through this blog where I share principles I've applied and insights I've gained in the past twelve years of my career and leadership journey.

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