Making The Network Work
post # 347 — April 5, 2007 — a Managing, Strategy post
Do you (or does your firm) belong to a network, where you try to collaborate with individuals and firms that are separate from your own?
Many individuals and firms attempt this, attempting to get the benefits of access to professionals in other locations (cities or countries) or in disciplines other than their own.
These networks exist in many professions, mostly to refer business to each other (or at least thatâ€™s where I see them working best.) Occasionally, members of the network try to join up to pitch for business jointly, thereby (if they are successful) winning work they would not have qualified to bid for alone. This does happen, but much less often.
In some case, the benefit is not in revenue increases, but comes from belonging to a group that shares best practices. This can be the biggest benefit if you have mechanisms to facilitate the sharing.
My observation is that itâ€™s very hard to make these networks work very well. The are not disasters, and if the memebership fees are low enough, they can be â€œclubsâ€ worth joining, but the potential is often unrealized.
Does anyone have views on the best ways to ensure that these networks really do benefit their members? If you are a member, whatâ€™s the best way to take advantage of any network you belong to?
Ian Street said:
I recently helped start a networking group as you describe. It is comprised of representatives from different companies (currently there are 5 firms involved), all providing professional services, and all within the same industry (in my case – the construction industry). We meet monthly, and so far it’s been a worthwhile experience (been doing it about 6 months now). It’s main focus is on marketing & business development, and our only requirement is that there be no companies permitted to join that could be considered as a competitor to a company already involved. We all realize that once a competitor is introduced into the mix, the free sharing of thoughts and ideas would come to a stop.
posted on April 5, 2007