What makes up a million dollar and successful network? Here are 7 characteristics and elements which are important.
Networks are usually established when there is a clear reason and purpose. They exist because there are needs which need to be met, and for as long as those needs still need to be met, there will still be a purpose for any network. This is precisely the reason why one needs to regularly review and evaluate networks to ensure that it is still relevant and serving the purpose for which it was set up.
No network can ever survive without people – people who are good and updated in their field of expertise – who can therefore extend this expertise onto their contacts. It is also important to have people at the right level for the task – operations people for the detail and strategic thinkers for the big picture. Networks would appear to work best when there is a “good fit” between members and a shared vision, passion or belief about the importance of the task and the outcomes required.
While it was agreed that you can’t have too many rules for networks since they tend to evolve organically, a degree of structure is important. There needs to be a clear understanding of how the group will move. Also, the process needs to be flexible enough to sustain the inevitable changes in people in the various organisations.
Often the success of a network has a lot to do with timing – being able to act just when needed, or to stop when necessary. Another key element of planning is succession planning by leaders within networks. It is important that someone else can take the leader’s place when he/she is not available to make major decisions. Leaders have to be willing to communicate with and trust staff with delegated authority. Sharing leadership and mentoring others is essential.
Products, not meaning an actual finished tangible product. Networks can also produce people who are skilled and confident. They contribute to the development of leaders and people with the ability to influence others.
A very important element in any network is support – not only from the industry or community it aims to be of service to, but also between network members. To survive, each person must help one another – stepping up when needed. Even competition can help other networks too, by referring one group when another knows that they cannot fulfill a need. Business and networking are not the proper venues for selfishness. You always reap what you sow, and get rewarded for every favour you do.
In life, one cannot be successful for long without credibility. Credibility is being truthful and worthy of trust while no one else is looking. Honesty is important to gain the trust of people, or other networks, and the community one aims to serve.