Using Network Design to Build a Following for Your Business
Establishing a following for your company is hard work. It takes time, energy, and resources to reach out to new connections, reinforce old ones, and rebuild fractured ones. You need to work at it constantly and consistently in order to be successful — but it is a necessity.
Networks Are the New Necessity
Think of network building as a necessary strength your company needs to compete effectively in the 21st Century. Author Joshua Cooper Ramo calls this ability ‘the seventh sense’ because it is such an important part of modern business. Your company can leverage its connections to create more advantageous supplier relationships, build lucrative distributions, or simply let would-be customers know that your company and all of its wonderful products and services exist. It just takes some forethought and planning.
The Role of Technology in Network Building
Traditionally, building a network involves getting to know different people in the hopes that one of them could turn into a powerful partner one day — but that takes a significant amount of time to do in any meaningful way in this modern world. Making contact and following up with each person takes time. Luckily, there is a smarter way to build a following than spending countless hours making connections and reinforcing them. While you cannot negate the importance of hard work, you can take steps to make your networking efforts more efficient by applying the principles of network design to building a network for your business.
Applying the Science of Network Design
Network design was originally a computer science. It involved planning the infrastructure of a network so that connections were as advantageous as possible. While those principles still have a role in computers, they can also benefit your business by helping you build a network that leverages your company’s unique value and attributes to reach greater levels of success.
Here’s how it works.
- The first step is identifying who your customers are and what they love about your business. Demographics data is important here. It will help you extrapolate preferences from a psychological and sociological basis.
- Next, define what specific needs your customers have — but don’t stop there. You should also look at what your suppliers and your distributors need, then brainstorm ways that you can fulfill those standards. For instance, you might have a distributor who sells many products in your industry but lacks any products that fulfill the same purpose as yours.
- You will also need to research where those targets are. To reach your demographic, you might need to select specific social media sites, advertise at a particular time of day, or participate in select communities. Likewise, with suppliers and distributors, there may be a trade forum, a LinkedIn group, a Chamber of Commerce, or an industry organization that provides an access point for your network building efforts.
- Once you have identified and defined your targets, you need to work to establish your company as one that can satisfy those needs through careful marketing. This may include traditional advertisements, but it can also include non-traditional ones, such as responding to a forum post about a pain point that one of your products or services solve.
Set your company up for success with network science. By leveraging the principles of network design, you can develop your seventh sense and build a following for your company that will help you be successful in your field.