Leveraging the Network Effect for your Business – As inspired by a formidable colleague who is the living embodiment of the Network Effect

Originally published by Sibi Nathaniel Grey

“I’m sure that I’ve either met them at an event once, or one of my colleagues should know someone who knows them – and I can probably get you an answer within the hour. Just hold on a minute, let me figure out how to get this going” – Patrick Forestell.

Patrick, who is a formidable friend, colleague, & walking, talking embodiment of the Network Effect inspired this 3 Part Series on Leveraging the Network Effect for Businesses as it pertains to the Future Of Work & Marketing’s New Normal.

Any good or service becomes more valuable to each user, both directly and indirectly, when the number of people using it increases. This is the fundamental concept behind the Network Effect. From the telephone to the internet, and from Facebook to Linkedin, and even Slack – the realities of the powerful effects of a strong network cannot be ignored. The kicker? Leveraging the Network Effect for your business is entirely possible if due consideration is given to the three universal principles at its core.

  1. Freedom from Control – a network is a living, breathing ecosystem that should never be completely controlled. It is not something to switch on at the discretion of “the powers that be”. Networks need openness and a free flow of information to perform optimally.
  2. Network activists – While it is evident that a functioning network requires people to be present in it, there are a few unique individuals who serve as the agents of activity – activists who keep the network alive. They are the entities in a network that send out “electrical impulses” that entice engagement, start conversations and pioneer the creation of self-organizing groups and initiatives.
  3. Intelligent Inquiry – If you want an intelligent answer from your network – the question you ask, and how you ask it, must be equally intelligent. Say your company is looking for better ways to communicate with your digital customers. You could ask your network “What are your favourite Chatbot Builders and Platforms” – to gather a list of technology recommendations. I believe that a different initial question could be, “What are some Intelligent Ways to engage my prospective customers in real time and with personalized experiences”, and then to follow up with nudges that guide the conversations towards those which are useful for you. It opens the realm of possibility to solutions that could very well be Chatbots or not at all; but most importantly, it facilitates creativity and collaboration towards the creation of a collectively devised solution with a common goal.

Applying these three concepts of the Network Effect to a business creates two tangible and actionable use cases for any modern enterprise willing to invest in the necessary technology and culture change to reap the direct and indirect benefits of doing so.

The two use cases which will be published in the follow-up articles are:

Part 2) The Future of Work – Harnessing the Collective Intelligence Of Your Organization’s Network & Building Knowledge-Based Organizations

Part 3) Marketing’s New Normal – Leveraging Consumer and Customer Platforms in the age of Advocacy Marketing, Influencer Marketing & Consumer-Driven Customer Service

About the author

Sibi Nathaniel Grey is an independent Consultant for Digital Strategy, Digital Transformation, Change Management, Business Transformation, Technology, Marketing, Data Science & Analytics. Working directly with clients or with Agencies and Consulting Firms on engagements where he utilises Design Thinking & Business Design to anticipate and solve real business problems. Connect with him at LinkedIn.