Rouzet Agaiby, Head of Business Development at eg technology, discusses the benefits of networks and networking.
Networking is soon becoming the medium through which new relationships are built and ongoing ones are maintained. Having recently attended a course on Partnerships and Strategic Alliances at INSEAD this theme was reiterated several times. It is not surprising that no business nowadays can flourish without investing and building on its network. Members of a value chain are soon starting to realize that their relationships with entities both upstream and downstream need to transform to be more collaborative and less transactional.
Networking should not be utilized as a source of doing business only but as a new avenue stream of learning and building a support network that guides and advises businesses on best practices. They could also be used a source of leadership lessons particularly from networks that encourage cross industry collaboration. While in the past, each industry had its own value chain, it is becoming more common place for different industries to be part of a larger ecosystem that promotes collaboration between different players that would not have otherwise found it natural to work together.
For example, healthcare was previously perceived to fall solely within the remit of hospitals and insurance providers. Now, it is becoming more natural to have an ecosystem that includes not only hospitals and insurers but also technology companies that provide wearables, remote health monitoring, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and telecommunications. Such an ecosystem can expand to include patience advocacy groups, regulators and charity organizations. These organizations will start to find it natural to work together because their common end goal would be to make healthcare more accessible to those who need it and at the same time start educating people on preventative measures.
Networks can also provide valuable regional intelligence particularly for people or companies relocating or expanding their activities to new geographical regions. Speaking with the Cambridge Norwich Tech corridor recently, I learned that some of their initiatives include building the infrastructure within the region to spread the resources in less crowded locations in order to ease the pressure from regions where there is more demand. This includes working with both local authorities and international businesses who might have not found it natural to find common ground to cater for the community in a focused region.
Networks are also unlikely to be isolated entities that work on their own initiatives. It will be more common to find network organizations collaborating together to overlap different purposes. For example, the Cambridge Norwich Tech corridor collaborates with other regional tech corridors like Waterloo and Amsterdam. Such collaboration can prove invaluable to their members as it not only results in a direct impact on the local infrastructure but also fosters international collaboration between geographic regions that would not have otherwise clustered their efforts to work together.
Networks should not be perceived as closed groups of people with common thinking but rather an open forum that provides a safe ground to exchange ideas, learn and support members. The more time is invested in building the network, the greater the rewards that can be reaped both personally and professionally.