How Leveraging the Network Can Help Your Business Grow

How to Survive & Grow in the Digital Age

 

How do you create value today?

What’s the best way to scale an enterprise?

How do you grow a company faster than ever and scale with lower cost?

 

It’s all possible if you leverage the network.

 

That’s how companies like Amazon, Airbnb, and Uber have succeeded against the odds.

 

“Entrepreneurial business favors the open mind.” –Richard Branson

 

In The Network Imperative: How to Survive and Grow in the Age of Digital Business Models , authors Barry Libert, Megan Beck and Jerry Wind argue that it is the way companies create value. And today, the best way to create value is through scalable and digitally networked business models – like Amazon, Google, Uber, Airbnb – that leverage networks of employees, customers, and suppliers.

 

Create a Virtual Network

For those not yet familiar with your work, what’s the network imperative?

The network imperative is recognizing that today’s most valuable companies are virtual networks that rely on digital platforms. This leading edge, new business model is emerging in every industry: Amazon and Alibaba in the retail industry, Match.com and Tinder in dating, Facebook and Instagram in Social Media, LinkedIn in professional resumes, Airbnb and Homeaway in room rentals, Uber and Lyft in shared car services, as well as the NYSE and NASDAQ in the financial sector.

 

What did your research show in terms of the financial results of “network orchestrators” versus the other 3 business models?

These business models – which we call Network Orchestrators – are more about orchestrating resources, be it insights, relationships, cars, homes, and skills rather than owning them. In addition, they scale based on the a flywheel effect , e.g. the more people, services and interactions there are on the network, the more others will join and make available their assets – whether that’s friends, photos, resumes, cars or homes.

 

“What’s dangerous is not to evolve.” –Jeff Bezos

 

5 Steps to Become Network Centric

Would you briefly describe the PIVOT model?

Our research indicates that all organizations have dormant, virtual networks of either employees, customers, prospects, suppliers, investors or alumni that, when combined with a digital platform and a clear incentive system to share what they have, what they know and who they know with others, can apply network orchestration to their business model. To help incumbents transition from firm centered (where they focus on what they make, market and sell) to network centric (where they orchestrate what others have and create peer-to-peer connections), we created a 5 step process called PIVOT.  The 5 steps are:

  1. Pinpoint your current business model (e.g. which of the 4 business models are you? Asset builder, service provider, technology creator or network orchestrator?)
  2. Inventory all your assets both tangible (e.g. plant, property and equipment as well as money) and intangible (brand, intellectual capital and relationships as well as interactions and big data).
  3. Visualize your future digital platform that connects your network of people or things.
  4. Operate your new digital network and virtual platform alongside your existing business and protect it while it grows, experimenting along the way to find the sweet spot that insures its success.
  5. Track using new big data metrics such as engagement, sentiment or interaction along with traditional financial measures to see how your network is doing and the value it creates.

 

“Show me your budget and I’ll tell you what you value.” –Joe Biden

Do You Have A Leadership Lifeline?

Leadership Lifelines

It’s 10:25 a.m. on a Thursday.  Your calendar indicates that you have a meeting with your boss at 10:30 in her office to update her on an important company project.  You grab a pen, your notepad, and a printout outlining the status of each open item.

Walking into her office, you immediately realize that the meeting agenda will be different.  Sitting next to your boss is the Human Resources Director.  Your boss says, “Sit down. There’s no easy way to say this, but your position has been eliminated.”

You’re not sure whether they see you gasp for air.  The sharp breath you take is to try to slow yourself down.  You feel heat rushing up into your face like lava erupting from a volcano.  Your heartbeat feels like you are running as it begins to pound faster.

You don’t even hear the rest of the dialogue. You stare blankly as your boss exits the room, and you are left with HR and a stack of paper.

 

“Facing your fears robs them of their power.” -Mark Burnett

 

What are you going to do?

 

The Stress of Losing a Job

Losing your job rates as one of life’s biggest stressors.  That stress ratchets up dramatically if you have little or no savings.  But it’s not just about money.  For many, it’s also about identity.  Losing friends and colleagues, and feeling ostracized, are also contributing factors.

And in most cases it is a blow to self-esteem.  Often your higher-level thinking will lose out to emotions. Change is hard, especially when you don’t control it.

 

“You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this and you will find strength.” -Marcus Aurelius

 

After you lose your employment, experts quickly tell you that you need to network.  Because, they will say, the way to a new job is through your network.

  • “Who do you know?”
  • “Who is in a position to help you?”
  • “Who are the most influential people in your network?”
  • “Who will you ask to be references?”

I have been both the recipient and the originator of networking calls. If you are looking for a job, you are inevitably going to call everyone you can.

Because I have a large network, most months I receive several calls or emails from people looking for work.  I truly feel for these people. I understand the challenge.  It’s stressful. Earlier on, I tried to help everyone.  Now, though I try, I just don’t have the time or bandwidth to help most people. That’s difficult for me because I want to help every person that I possibly can in these difficult situations.

 

“It’s not stress that kills us, it’s our reaction to it.” -Hans Seyle

 

Common and Uncommon Advice

Advice you will often hear: Network. Build your connections. Meet people at industry events. Become an expert in your field.

Here’s the advice you don’t often hear: