Everywhere you turn you hear people talk about network and/or networking. The other day, I saw two comments in the message a friend sent to me that underscore the importance of network / networking. One says, “If you’re not networking, you’ll soon stop working”. The second one reads, “Your network determines your net worth.”
The importance of a network cannot be overemphasized. This article aims at highlighting not just the need for a network but a diversified network. The saying “variety is the spice of life” is most applicable to the type of network you have. If all you have is a homogeneous network, it’s very likely you’re underperforming in critical areas of life.
Why you need a diversified network
Network is capital. Like all forms of capital, the usefulness of a network is that it enables its members get things done easily and quickly than they would have done if they were working independently of one another. In effect, members of a network reap the benefit of synergy.
A human network derives its overriding usefulness from the fact that no one has all the resources (time, money, energy, wisdom, etc) to achieve all there is to achieve alone. You require the resources other people have in order to effectively and efficiently achieve your set goals.
What level of network diversification is desirable?
Since network is capital and capital is any resource that enables you to accomplish a certain end, it means that the extent of variegation of your network will be determined by the ‘ends’ there are to accomplish. Let’s assume you have 100 things (ends) you need to get done and you’re able to accomplish 20 of these ends through your network, it means you’ve 20 percent variegation in your network. If we agree that 20 percent is not a good score, it means you need to work more on diversifying your network. Ideally, a diversified network is what you should achieve over time. However, that will not happen without deliberate effort on your part.
It’s hard to think of anything I want to do that I can’t get done through my network. My network cuts across all disciplines imaginable. In my network are bankers, lawyers, doctors, engineers, pastors, traders, builders, architects, cabdrivers, lecturers, estate developers, journalists, public servants, IT consultants, barbers, plumbers, etc. I have over 1,200 contacts on my mobile phone alone. My wife has over 1,000 contacts on her mobile telephone alone (her contacts are my indirect contacts).
However, my most powerful network is the one I have with the God. Recently, I put up a post “WHAT MAKES YOU FUNCTION” on my Facebook wall. In it, I stated that there are three ‘personalities’ and one thing that make me function: God, my family, my inner circle of friends and books. I reiterated that if any of these is taken from me, I would malfunction. With God there’s nothing I can’t do. Little wonder, Apostle Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4 verse 13). The wisdom is in knowing what to get done through human networks and what to seek from spiritual networks.
How beneficial is a network?
The direct effect of a well diversified network is that it lowers your overall cost of getting things done. This low cost comes by way of the ease with which the task is executed and the reduction in or elimination of search costs. For instance, when a member of your network introduces someone to assist you in executing a task, you would very likely enjoy a reduction in charges. In addition, there’s a bigger cost you avoid when you use people introduced by your network member. That’s the rerun cost, which you avoid by using trusted hands.
Recently, a neighbour who had just bought an apartment in our estate needed the services of a tiler. His primary concern was getting a competent person to do the job. The potential risk of using an incompetent person was too grave for him to consider. When he told me about his challenge, right before him, I called a tiler I had used for our apartment five years earlier and they closed the deal (on the phone) within ten minutes! Expectedly, the tiler did a very good job. My neighbour was so pleased with the quality of the job that he introduced the tiler to a contractor who has a bigger tiling job.
Key attribute of a network
A network makes the accomplishment of any ends easy. Many times, especially with the advancement in technology, you can get things done without leaving a particular spot. My philosophy about accomplishing a task is: “Always think network and you will never go wrong”. The Scripture says, “…In the multitude of counselors (network), there’s safety” – Proverbs 11 verse 14b (emphasis mine).
The only thing you need to ascertain is that you’re in the right network. If you belong to a network and your achievement rate is low, it’s one of three things: You’re in the wrong network, your network is not diversified enough or you’re not adding enough value that could engender the readiness of other members to offer you value in return (meaning you’re probably seen as a net-taker).
Why do friends help themselves?
I’ve pondered on this at different times. My thoughts on why friends help themselves are: One, trust is a difficult thing to establish. This is so because most people are not trustworthy. The ease with which people betray one another is alarming. As a result, most people opt to keep to themselves. Two, developing quality relationship is hard work. The art of developing good relationship takes a heavy toll on all your time and energy. Three, an average human being is lazy.
Putting these three together makes it imperative that people in functional relationships do things that will further strengthen it. The things they do to maintain and strengthen the relationship are what can be termed helping one another. Once we are in a mutually beneficial relationship, the natural inclination is to keep it.
Some have taken this weakness in breaking away from long-term relationship to unimaginable levels. It was said that Captain Thomas Sankara, the deceased President of Burkina-Faso was told that Blaise Campaore (the current President) was planning a coup to oust him. Captain Sankara’s response was that if indeed his friend (Blaise Campaore) was planning to topple his government, it was too late for him to do anything! In October 1987, Blaise Campaore ousted his friend, killed him and took over the leadership of the country!
The above is probably an extreme reflection of how stupid people can be when they trust one another.
How to develop your desired network
To develop your desired network, the first step is: Know your strength. Strength is attractive. Having identified your strength, the next step is to make every effort to offer value based on your strength. When you know your strength and you play to it, you become almost irresistible. While offering value, the next important step is to communicate your value – let people know what you’re capable of doing.
Finally, be really nice to people you come in contact with. This should be a no-brainer but the sheer number of nasty people around makes niceness a virtue. The Scripture says that through acts of kindness some people have entertained angels without knowing. Be nice to people you meet, you never know when your angel will show up.
If you’re lagging behind in the achievement of your set goals, take a second look at your network. Be more deliberate in the development of your network and you’ll be amazed at the success you will record within a reasonable time. If this article has been of value to you, I will appreciate having your comment through the space provided below and don’t forget to share it with others.
You may also check this related article: http://waleadeniranye.com/capital -and-the-life-of balance/.