The knowledge network, networking people.
The business of networking people and information together.
By Don Fitchett
The myth "We use only 10% of our brains" might
not be true, but it is safe to say most of us only use 10% of our people
networking resources. A similar phrase also holds true with the "knowledge network"
(networking people and information together), "use it - or lose
the beginning of time, man has migrated together sharing ideas and arriving
at new ideas as a result of communicating with others.
Of course the most obvious advantage of networking with
your peers and others is that they may have a solution you seek. The more
you add to your knowledge network, the better chance you have of finding your
solutions and being more successful at what you do. Later I will talk
about some of the many resources at your disposal to build your knowledge network.
The most powerful aspect about the knowledge network is
often the most overlooked advantage. That advantage is a solution that
results when two or more individuals communicating back and forth with
a common goal. The result; a solution that would not have been reached
by either individual on their own. The power to arrive at that solution
and the quality of that solution increases exponentially with each
individual who joins the knowledge network!
The value of a
network is at least of the order of N-squared
That is Metcalfe's Law (Bob Metcalfe is the inventor of Ethernet), as
shown by the example below.
A network of:
- 2 people working on a common problem have 4 times the odds of
reaching a solution than each alone.
- 3 sister companies networked together are 9 times more likely to be successful
than their competitor's companies who are operating as stand alone
- 10 web sites networked together is 100 times more powerful than each
- 4 similar organizations collaborating together will be 16 times more
useful to its members than any one individual organization. (Also
each will see increased membership proportional to the number of collaborating
Okay, I think you get the picture, but I would like to mention just
one more point to emphasize the value of the resources available.
For instance, take the organization squared example above. One may argue it
is not sixteen times say - six hundred in each organization, but actually
limited to the number of members you have contact with. One would continue
... in a chapter you actually may only have contact with 10 members, not
all 9,600 members.
I would reply, ah ha! Now I have you thinking! In reality
this may be true, but I would like to bring you into my reality. If only
two of those organizations had internet discussion groups and only 5% of
the members participated, you could now have two groups of 30. Take
another reality check and possibly only 5 individuals from each discussion
group would be willing to participate in your discussion. Even that would
be equivalent to 25 or more people helping you find a solution.
The key to the above analysis is that two
criteria are being met ...
Individuals communicating back and
forth + with a common goal
If you just emailed the 5 individuals in each group and each individual
did not have added value of seeing the other individual's replies, you
would lose the squared function of the analysis. The result would only be
equivalent to 10 people helping you find a solution. Still much more
productive than you working on a solution by your self. The real power of
networking comes when all participants share in all the communication.
That is when a solution evolves to that which none of the individuals on
their own may have ever come up with.
Now when someone asks you;
is the formula for team work"? You can reply, N-squared.
Now a little about the people networking resources available
to us all.
In the old days, they would walk to the neighbor's farm and share a cup
of coffee while brain storming. Later around the industrial revolution,
they would also brain storm with their peers at work (when the
social/political environment would allow it.) Then trade organizations
started taking root and small groups would meet for chapter meetings. This
was actually a revolution in itself as individuals could start to benefit
from sources outside their companies.
Today we have the Internet, email, and discussion boards that serve as a
much more powerful people networking resources than any one could have
ever imagined back then (well with the exception a few like Mr.
Metcalfe:>). Now we virtually have the entire world with millions of
people at our doorstep to network with. With technology evolving so
quickly, we need this networking resource to survive in a very competitive
Email: Email has become not only an
accepted form of communication and networking, but a preferred method.
It's quicker than snail mail (postal), you can store all letters on your computer
to search and reference later, it saves trees and it's free! Always
respond to your email with in 24 hours, it's the norm and will increase
your chances for success. I actually prefer email to cell phones that have
poor reception and lose signals. Email makes for much better quality
communication; you always hear what the other is saying, you have and receive
more organized thoughts and you don't forget an important detail.
Discussion Boards: The most
important of people networking resources via the internet. Many
experts are available as well as your peers and they are all free! For a
list of popular industry related boards, see http://www.bin95.com/discussion_forums.htm
Please do not spam them by posting advertisements, but when you help or
seek help, be sure and leave your name or company url as a signature. You
want due recognition and it gives the other people you're communicating
with, an idea of who you are. Always set up a special email account to use
with these boards because unfortunately, the email address you use will receive
spam. (Newsgroups also fall under this category and there will be examples
on the page referenced above.)
Websites: Many overlook websites
and the search engines to find them, as networking tools. When you have a
specific issue you need to find a solution for, use google to search for
it. When you find a website specializing in the topic, you have also
found an expert. Use the website's contact form and ask for assistance.
Most website owners/maintainers will respond with in 24 hours. Most will
help you out with free advice in hopes of a future relationship.
About the Author: Don Fitchett is
President of Business
Industrial Network, a company founded on the principles mentioned in
this article. (www.bin95.com)
Please feel free to copy and pass along this article as long as the
credits are included.