Networking – the art of connecting with other people -is a key tool for the transition into the Next Economy. Building a personal network was important to many segments of the Old Economy. Here are just a few of the reasons networking is critical to virtually everyone involved in the Next Economy:
- Communities are more ad hoc now. You create communities by combining networks.
- Today, both online and in person networks are vital. Many “in person” networks start online.
- The old “command and control” structures of the old economy were always dysfunctional but they are even less reliable going forward.
There are three types of networks you should be building
- Operational – people you connect with to get things done. Even Old Economy companies rely heavily on vendors, subcontractors and outsourcing. Networking is how these companies meet. Now, you need contacts that are not only inside your industry, but other businesses as well.
- Personal – people you connect with due to common interests. This one should be fun. It is easier now with Social Media because you can easily connect with people outside your geographic boundaries.
- Strategic – people who can get you where you want to go. Your Vision (you have one, right?) will guide you in connecting with the people who count in this area.
- Build outward, not inward (look outside your current circle)
- Emphasize diversity over volume. You can only manage a certain sized network, even with all the social media tools available. Figure out what size right for you – this number will be different for everyone – it will even change for you as an individual during different phases of your life.
- Build “weak” ties, not “strong” ones (don’t rely on the same folks constantly).
- Bridges are key people to have in your networks. Bridges are people that can connect you with the right people.
- Use the appropriate social media platform. You do not have time to use them all, so specialize in the one that is right for your needs.
- Stick with it – It takes time to build a network and it is too late to build from scratch when you need it.
A recent case study
Last week, I met a guy that had reserved space for Bitcoin ATMs at a couple of local events – he has one on order but it won’t arrive in time for either event. He asked for my help.
I didn’t personally know anyone with a mobile BTM but I was fairly sure that someone in my network of other Next Economy thinkers did know a mobile BTM owner. I put out feelers and the one that worked came from someone I only know through Facebook, not the from the people that I have known personally for years. I asked her because she had posted pictures of her women’s cryptocurrency group activities.
The mobile BTM owner turned out to be 2 degrees of separation from me.
What steps have you taken today to build your network?