Networking will make you more productive in business

You see how people in the same boat handle similar issues

In Summary

• It helps you devise innovative solutions for your challenges

A networking session
A networking session

The term "mental health" almost sounds like a luxury for anyone in business. It is one of those things that seem far removed from the lives of most entrepreneurs struggling to survive amidst difficult economic circumstances.

The effects of stress, excessive workload, long hours and burnout on employees are well known. Employers take deliberate steps to ensure the mental health of their employees because stress lowers productivity. A stressful work environment is likely to lead to the departure of valuable staff and, in worst-case scenarios, contribute to suicide.

Less well known are the effects of stress on the self-employed. A stressed-out employee can choose to leave the employer. A stressed-out business owner cannot leave his or her only source of livelihood. A 2017 study of 335 participants found that 72 per cent of entrepreneurs had a mental health issue.

Entrepreneurs were found to have 30 per cent more depression, 29 per cent more attention deficit disorder, 12 per cent more substance use and 11 per cent more bipolar disorder than comparison participants. Entrepreneurs reporting no mental issues were just 24 per cent of the sample respondents. The findings were published in the journal Small Business Economics.

A large part of stress in business comes from juggling multiple roles. An entrepreneur is the CEO of his or her business, the marketing manager, the human resource manager, the sales executive, the finance manager, the procurement manager and the logistics manager all rolled into one. The business proprietor also has to deal with tax matters, county government licensing, and an unpredictable environment, while chasing up on payments from various clients.

Felix Kipkosgei, an independent analyst who has done extensive surveys on Kenyan entrepreneurs, says psychological well-being is important in tackling stress. By promoting positive responses to stressful situations, psychological well-being may help entrepreneurs build resilience against stress as they navigate through various crisis situations.

“Despite the stress that entrepreneurs undergo, they still associate themselves with a strong level of resilience,” Kipkosgei wrote in the Merits magazine.

“It is unlikely that their abilities to overcome stress associated with entrepreneurship exist as mere coincidence or by chance.”

Kipkosgei believes that staying in touch with friends and family helps with managing stress. “Entrepreneurs can build social capital through both offline and online social networks, and that these two types of social capital can play a vital role in the entrepreneurship journey,” he says.

The kind of social capital Kipkosgei is referring to is built by networking with other people to see how they handle similar issues. Networking can help you devise innovative solutions for your challenges. Find people you trust and confide in them.

Other experts describe networking as an interaction and engagement for mutual benefit. If you are facing challenges in your business, your network may be able to provide you with advice.

Equally, you'll share your knowledge and skills to help contacts which will strengthen your relationships. It's worth remembering that online networking should be handled with the same importance and courtesy as face-to-face networking.

WATCH: The latest videos from the Star