One thing’s for sure…………If you or your organisation network effectively, the likelihood of you achieving your goals and being successful will be greatly increased.
There are certainly many benefits to personal and business networking and in the hope to encourage others to give it a go or add it to their strategy, I have outlined some business focused information that I hope you will enjoy and find interesting.
What is a network?
In personal or business terms, a network is a group or system of interconnected people or things.
What is networking?
Networking is the practice of developing and maintaining a network, which is usually undertaken over an extended period. Like-minded people meet to recognise, create, or act upon opportunities for mutual development and growth. The term is usually encountered in the workplace, though it can equally apply to pursuits outside of work.
How do you network effectively?
Organisational structure is almost always built as a hierarchy. In a hierarchy, information can flow relatively freely up and down but not necessarily across departments in the structure and when they do, it would normally just be a senior level. This can be improved if the organisation increases the opportunity for all levels and departments to meet regularly. To get the real benefits of this the networking events should cover both the formal, like a conference, and the informal, such as action groups, community events or off site gatherings. Having regular opportunities to network will allow so inclined individuals to listen, learn, build rapport and share information and ideas.
When networking, the emphasis should to be on meeting and learning how one can support or assist other individuals at the event; to add value and help others achieve their objectives. Having intentions of personal gain will often result in a breakdown of the flow of information and ideas in the network and slow down the development of relationships and trust.
If an organisation invests in effective networking involving individuals from different departments and levels, the network will be more robust. This in turn will minimise the likely hood of the linkages breaking from say, an individual leaving the company.
What are the benefits of networking?
If a business uses networking as a key factor in their marketing plan, over time they should expect to see:
- increased sharing of ideas and information
- increased morale and productivity
- strong feelings of trust
- greater brand recognition and employee profile
- increased revenue
Suppliers and businesses can be seen as networked businesses, and will tend to source products and services through their existing relationships and those of the companies they work closely with. Networked businesses tend to be open, random, and supportive, whereas those relying on hierarchical, traditional managed approaches are closed, selective, and controlling.
When considering the effect of networking on business, economists will often refer the networking effect:
Value of Product/Service = Number of People Using It2
In systems thinking, the ‘success to the successful structure’, outlines how the more popular something becomes, the greater the chances of its success (self-fulfilling prophesy).
By having some understanding of networks in business, an organisation will have a better opportunity to impact growth from a good product or service. The principle here is that generally, to have a good product or service alone is not enough. People have to know about it, have access to it and actually use it for it to be a success. The more networked a company is, the more contacts can be made, the more opportunity there is for information and recommendations of the product or service to be shared.