How does one form a trusted network of associates ?
Not via LinkedIn. Not via FaceBook. Not via anything just purely electronic.
For a dependable network of friends, there seems to be only two approaches – fall back to the old boys’ network of school friends that you really loved to play and study with; and/or, carefully handpick friends from a network of known people, not just acquaintances.
Many a time, people will approach you from a pool of industry companies, for example. Or, from an acquaintance you had met in a friends’ get together. Such approaches could lead to future business, one can never say. However, it is critical to examine each such person carefully, and meet up if found to be valuable. The process of selection of associates is long-winded and sometimes, quite annoying. But there is no shortcut. Everyone that you select has to be time-tested for repeatable consistency of behaviour, output, commitment and ideology. It is just not easy.
Sometimes, we mistake close friends to be capable of becoming business associates in the future. Nothing can be farther from practical reality. Friends wish to be friends, satisfying mutual needs for a relationship. If the relationship expands to a business outcome, then many a time the relationship gets muddled. I have seen this happening.
Forming a close network of dependable associates, therefore, does not occur by accident.
Network is a difficult and time-consuming operation, generating long-lasting value to all participants if executed carefully.
I spend a lot of time trying to analyze the potential networks around me. Sometimes, I do get surprised. Networks operating around me are sometimes based on pure longevity of friendship or working together for a long time. While these are not parameters to be discarded easily, the objective of network formation for mutual benefit is missed out. People just get together to drink for example, and have meaningless chat. That is not what I mean by network.
A network of close confidantes is formed diligently by like-minded folks – and it rarely exceeds a count of four to five persons. The objective of mutual benefit is clearly understood and that drives the network formation. There is a sense of mutual comfort, a sense of mutual consultation without inhibitions, a sense of friendliness, a sense of sharing. All these have to be in play before a network actually starts working and delivering results.
If the alignment of thoughts happens at the beginning of the network formation, such a network will invariably perform well. Once alignment is accomplished, the network of associates works together well, and tries to achieve something productive during every interaction. Such a productive working together invariably leads to planned outcomes. All these need to be thought out well at the initiation of the network formation.
Such small networks are productive and might eventually lead to a joint venture.
This is different from chatting over LinkedIn mails and FaceBook messenger. While network formation is still part of “social media”, it is a different and more advanced kind of social media which is designed for business outcomes with high productivity and result orientation.
Well, more on this topic as the idea develops. Of course, what I am saying here is nothing new. I am capturing what comes to my mind directly on to this blog post, and I hope it will be helpful to the readers.
24th May 2015