The Value of Networks and Ecosystems

It’s no big secret: Your network and the ecosystem you’re in is having a major influence on you and your professional life. Having knowledge and connections at your disposal can help you out in many situations, and if you leverage your network’s knowledge and skills right it can get you really far.

The value of networks within enterprises, companies, schools and non-profit organizations are tremendous. The people you know, and the people they know, can make anything possible. When you are trying to solve different type of problems, knowing who to talk to and who to ask advice, can help you reach your goals. As a founder, or in a startup in general, you normally are dependent on these people. Both because you can’t expect to do everything yourself, but also because you don’t know everything. You won’t have all the answers, and you don’t have the capacity to do everything perfect. Many entrepreneurs get into an industry where they already have a lot of connections and knowledge for the simple reason that it’s easier to get a heads start.

A network is your resource and your set of shortcuts around the business world. If you don’t obsessively connect, you are missing out. You will be at a disadvantage compared to other founders who are doing this correctly.

Networking

Networking is the basics of business and creates fertile soil for you to rapidly build out this amazing professional asset. Many don’t like to network. It can be uncomfortable, and many associates it with not being your authentic self. Networking is not about being a Duracell bunny during networking events. It’s essentially about getting to know people. Knowing a lot of people is good, but the better relationships you have within your network, the stronger it is. Getting to know three new people well, could be just as beneficiary as getting 10 business cards. If you have a goal of meeting 1–3 new people every week, it starts to add up.

Remember to cultivate your existing network, as that is equally important to getting to know more people.

Mentors

For young entrepreneurs that lack industry knowledge, and/or an extensive network, getting mentors is important. Mentors can provide shortcuts into different industries and ecosystems. Getting mentors, and cultivating those relationships is vital, yields great results if leveraged right. It’s actually a lot harder than it sounds, but it’s time very well spent. Mentors can last a lifetime, and both parties can grow continuously through the exchange of knowledge and challenges.

Co-working space & ecosystems

A great way to build new networks is getting into a high quality co-working space. It’s normally comprised of a larger ecosystem, which is very helpful. Leveraging this ecosystem can be a great way to start growing your network and getting new acquaintances. People from different industries and with different skills come together on one location, and can be great sparring partners.

Author: Øistein Sonstad