The Network is the Brand is the Business

Who do you go to for advice, inspiration or support? Chances are it’s not just your boss or your colleagues, but rather a wide range of people from many different areas of your life, increasingly coming from anywhere via social media and other technologies.

And yet whilst telecommunications networks have played a pivotal role in connecting the planet, networks are not really about technology at all. Rather networks are about people connecting with other people, around a shared interest, be it professional or otherwise.

“Networking is only one letter away from not working.” Chris Powell

Whilst networks have always been how we get things done – the invisible glue that binds our society and economies – things have become a whole lot more interesting recently for two reasons.  Firstly networks are getting larger which means the world is getting smaller (and therefore better connected). Secondly networks are increasingly visible.

Therefore, more than ever if we want to remain effective, we need to invest in our networks as much as our know-how – both as individuals and as organisations. However, with a few notable exceptions, building networks is still seen incorrectly as the domain of individuals rather than of organisations. To rectify this, here are four, interrelated things we have observed in other businesses and now try to do ourselves instinctively, which really work:

  1. Be generous quickly – in any new network relationship, the faster you find opportunities to share – data, resources, skills, opportunities – the greater the returns in the long run.
  2. Making your customer/partner look good – never miss an opportunity to boost a partners profile/ego. What comes around goes around after all.
  3. Have the humility to listen a lot – no matter who you are most of the smart people work for somebody else, so it’s worth hearing what they have to say.
  4. Buy from as well as sell to your customers/partners – your network knows best, if only you’d host a few conversations and ask a few interesting questions.

As ever, we’d be interested in what you think of the above suggestions and learning what works well for you. After all it’s all about investing in the network, which ultimately is the brand, which in turn is the business. After all, who we know tells us something about who we are, and what we share tells us something about who we want to be.

by Roland

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