When thinking about business success, there's a general consensus that one cannot make it alone. Whether you like it or not, you are dependent on partners, collaborators, customers, suppliers, and without the help of these people you would not succeed. An underutilized resource that most business owners have is their own networks that they might not be fully aware of or that they might not fully utilize, but managing this resource is a vital skill that managers and business owners need. It is also so critically important because this is how work gets done in today's business environment. Successful entrepreneurs and managers normally map and assess their networks, and also realize that their connections can be segmented, and that there are different networks for different purposes. Some networks might, for instance, be operational, some strategic and some developmental, and you will also find certain patterns and clusters in your network.
So how would you go about building this critical resource? Firstly, it is important to understand what a network is and then to map and assess your network. Who are those different clusters or groupings of people in your sphere of influence? Think, for instance, of your personal connections, colleagues at work, friends from school, people from university, maybe you belong to a professional business association, or to a Chamber of Commerce. These are all different networking opportunities. Once identified, find ways to strengthen the network and initiate and develop relationships within the network. And then obviously try and put those networks to use. Below you will find some resources to build your network. Also continue to ask yourself the question of whether your network is broad enough? And are you using your network to its fullest potential to achieve your business goals? When looking at this resource, you will realize that most people don't make adequate use of the networks they have. This could be a great opportunity for business growth as it is common knowledge that, particularly in service businesses, new business is mostly generated from referrals and “word of mouth”, and this is where your network can play an incredibly important role.