When we use the word 'network' it sounds like something someone has built like 'the road network' or a 'telecoms network'. A business network is something very different ...
We're really talking about living, breathing relationships that grow and change over time. What's more, there's research that explains how it all works. British anthropologist, Robin Dunbar, says that each of us can only maintain around 150 stable relationships, from acquaintances we would be happy to see in the street to our closest family and friends.
His work says that the number of people in our personal network changes according to a formula he describes as a 'rule of three'. This ranges from five to 10 family members to 15 to 30 close acquaintances, 45 to 90 people in our wider network, and 135 to 180 people we know in passing.
This group of people is your personal network and it's a limited resource. When you're growing your business, it is quite a small number. In fact, many of those people won't have any impact on your business at all. If you want to grow your business, would you be willing to sacrifice some of your closest network of family and friends for business contacts who can add value to your business?
There's an alternative. You can still enjoy the company of your aunties and uncles, sports team members, and people in your local community. That's an important consideration when you're working so hard to make your business successful.
Many of the people in your life are acquaintances you have met through work. What difference would it make if all your business-related contacts were actively working to help you succeed?
Admittedly, blogging, video conferencing, and social media have made us 'feel' that we know a lot more people. However, the number of people we can sustain ongoing relationships with is unlikely to change.
What might happen if you invest some of your valuable 'acquaintance resources' in a structured network of like-minded business colleagues? Imagine you have a business network of five people and they each had a network of 50 acquaintances.
Once you have learnt to know, like, and trust the five people in your business network they would be happy to introduce you to anyone in their own network. And, of course, you might be able to introduce them to someone in your network too. Now, you can access a network of 250 people and you have already exceeded the scope of your personal network.
What would happen if you were part of a business network of 25 people with mutual respect and a commitment to support each other? Then you would have access to 1,250 people who might be able to help your business grow!
So, in answer to our original question, when your network is focused on mutual support even a small number of people can give you access to almost any type of contact you might need for your business.
Find out for yourself. Visit BNI Sterling soon.