Tea Talk: Networking vs social media marketing

Sales and marketing consultant Carol White responding to a question after presenting at the Marketers Association of Zimbabwe winter school in Nyanga recently.

Winter came to bite us with a vengeance last week. The time under the blankets with hot water bottle at my feet and another positioned on my middle back created time for reflection. Here we are in the third quarter of the year.

After so many decades in the corporate world, I am programmed to review the first six months of 2023 versus my plan and intentions. As well as map the rest of the year.

Corporate life is more stable compared to being self-employed. Although I had a stint of running my own training and consulting business in Zambia for four years, it is different in Zimbabwe.

When I embarked on writing a weekly column in the independent newspaper, The Post, I had feedback as well as business. The column was also a launch pad for radio and television as well as speaking engagements. I wrote for five years even during a four-month hospital stint.

Fast-forward to returning to Zimbabwe from Zambia and spending four years in hospitality once again, Covid arrived and after that I spent two years in Chobe, Botswana. Once again for hospitality.

For 20 years, my work roles required extensive travel and 10 years in courier and logistics covering Central Africa meant that there were never many free weekends.

The desire to come home again and, this time, take it slower was a loud calling and so here I am back in Harare having weekends at home. Reading, taking courses, knitting, playing scrabble, going to Pilates and meditation circles as well as meeting friends has been a dream come true.

On the work front — I still must work, just not all the time!

Many of us have never made enough money to retire.  My game plan was to use social media, LinkedIn,  asa marketing tool to secure training and consulting business. After attending courses online and face-to-face trainings and listening to endless YouTube videos, my efforts yielded zero results.

Networking and contacting people that I know has been effective. Word of mouth referrals as well have yielded results. I have realised that for me and for what I am doing now the good old-fashioned way works in Zimbabwe.

Somehow, it has always been easier to market and sell for a corporate company than for myself. I loathe imposing on others. That was why social media appealed as it was not direct contact.

That got me thinking that connecting happens when one meets physically or telephonically. Creating rapport and common ground is then based on what the competencies are of the person and the needs of the business. Until one has the actual experience of the training, it is still difficult to establish whether it is worth or not. This is interesting for me to look at how I go about bringing training business in.

For now, I shall go through my collection of business cards and create a pile of those to greet and advise what I am doing. I had done a mail out in February 2023 to my Zimbabwean contacts. Mining deeper into contacts in Zambia and Botswana where I have lived and worked will be an action step.

Also in the short time back in Harare I have met new people whom I shall re engage with. The hospitality industry is my forte however sales and marketing and team transformation applies to all business. In Zambia, the selection of companies was across all industries.

Designing adverts for refresher courses in customer experience mapping, sales and marketing, team building, conflict management, building successful teams, business etiquette, is another plan. One-on-one coaching for career development has been requested a few times, so I shall pursue that too.

There are also short-term consultancies which I shall continue to apply for that catch my attention.

The purpose of this is for the reader to follow my thought process and perhaps it guides them to do the same for their own business or side hustle.

On that note, time for me to get cracking and do send me an e-mail just to say that you have read this article which is the fourteenth one. I would love interaction and dialogue.

  • White is a born and bred Zimbabwean. A career spanning banking, hospitality and courier/logistics. She wrote a column in The Post newspaper in Zambia for five years and published a book, Conversations with Carol, as well as hosting a TV programme featuring entrepreneurs and small businesses. Passionate about team transformation, customer experience mapping, sales and marketing and leadership which combines increases in profitability and performance, she connects the dots. — [email protected].

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