People networking : building a competitive advantage through optimum utilization of the informal "buddy system"
People networking forms an integral part in achieving the goals and objectives of an individual and/or the organisation and not only with entrepreneurial success, but in the implementation of effective management techniques. In the “New Economy” organisational structures, managers and their subordinates represent this networked formation, which are sustainable by hidden people networks in the organisation. These people networks of hidden alliances, influences and relationships are not only based on a bureaucratic hierarchy, but information and knowledge concerning the individual's network. These networks assist the organisation to achieve goals and targets. These hidden networks within organisations, officially known as entrepreneurial networks and casually referred to as “Buddy systems” have enormous implications on not only the internal organisational relationships, but also depict how business is conducted externally to the organisation. Once personnel become aware of these "Buddy systems" which do not benefit them or treat certain individuals unfairly, negativity sets in. Eventually this causes internal havoc, but far worse, external badmouthing about organisational practices, which will eventually have a negative impact on revenue and if not addressed, could lead to the end of the organisation's existence. External people networks, on the other hand, can be beneficial to the organisation, for the selling of goods and services, where excellent relationships can lead to an increase in revenue. It is very important to protect and be aware of these external organisational networks, as these networks can cultivate an organisation and stimulate its growth. Strategies to identify internal and external people networks should embrace the impact of these alliances by measuring the financial impact on revenue generated versus spent. This will finally lead to shareholder's wealth. The implementation of an appropriate management information system (MIS), to measure and manage the organisational internal and external people networks, is possible. These management information systems will sooner, rather than later, highlight the "Buddy systems" and ensure early addressing of "Buddy" appointments. External networks can become an intangible asset to the organisation and must be nurtured and developed to maturity. The proposed networking strategy deals with how individuals can be grown to become exceptional “Networkers” which will finally assist the organisation to increase productivity and in turn will benefit the individuals economically. The chosen topic “People Networking: Building a Competitive Advantage through the optimum utilisation of the informal Buddy System”, illustrates the power of human networking. The slogan of the 21st Century: whom you know and how well one is connected, in-and-outside, the organisation is still true, as organisations and individuals utilise formal and informal networks to outsmart the competition. Networking is about personal achievement, accomplishment and realisation of goals. However, the rapid changing of economic environments steer organisations towards effective execution and managing of informal networks. Not only is it perceived as individual's activity, but is also recognised as a critical feature in the pressure to obtain a competitive advantage. Key characteristics of effective networking entails many things, but the most important factor to consider is the process of networking. This will ensure that all parties involved, benefit from the relationship. Two or more people in a relationship contribute to the spawning of social capital by donating their personal capital with the expectation that it will generate a return in the future. Human investment can only survive when it is built on unbiased and equitable foundations. When members perceive and distinguish individuals within a network business relationship as being egocentric, operating purely for self-centredness, then greed, corruption and deception will destroy the alliance. Self-adaptation or self emergence of functions and formal structures is necessary. Consequently, organisations have elements by design, creating structures, management teams and the incorporation of reporting lines. Leaders tend to discard the non-designed self-organised groups in an organisation. These informal networks of people materialise in dissimilar divisions of the organisation. Daily "Buddy" linkages are connected by a common goal. Networking 'Buddies" often aspire to achieve something that is not recorded as part of anybody's job description and branded as “communities of practices”. These interactions are usually undervalued and underestimated by senior management, since they assume that these conversations are business-goal related. The lack of an infrastructure to manage these hidden interrelationships is the greatest threat to organisations and those who acknowledge the existence and value of these alliances will reap the benefit of obtaining a competitive advantage through effective use of people networking. Coming to the following conclusion: "Think about it…Knowledge is power, people networking provide one with knowledge and if these networks are based on bust and honesty…long-term relationships are inevitable.