To answer this question (that sounds like a title of the book I will write one day) the point would be to define what Network means.
I don’t believe the number of followers on twitters or contact on the various social presences one might have is directly related to the quality of your network. Not only because you might have an impressive number of cousins and relatives : network without context is useless.
I tried to do it recently : how many people, within your domain of expertise, you can call and be absolutely sure you would be given their quality time, if asked for a good reason ?
This is the key question one should ask when we talk about ‘references’.
It is usually the single most important question I do ask when I need to hire a senior person in my team. Here again, is about relevance and more importantly about trust.
In my previous post I was talking about the ‘silver bullet’ one should shoot when a compelling opinion is required but someone who has the right expertise to jump in and the fact that this person trusts you makes all the difference.
In one of the previous Innotribe at Sibos, we tried once an experiment with a new reputation currency, caller the Reputon, as a sort of mean of exchange for the knowledge you have and being able to trade it with someone else’s capability in another space.
In the context of you network, we are all already using such a currency, in an implicit way.
Truth is that without reciprocity, network is also very instable. I am very mindful of not invading the space of people I reach out to especially when I am the one to start. And I am utterly grateful when I can reciprocate the contribution, because a balanced (business) relationship build on itself on such dynamics.
Fintech world is full of people barking about who they know and where they worked, filling their mouth with names and relationships in a way I often consider clumsy at best.
I always had a true passion for building networks and for the perfect recipe to make them last, until I realised – after a while – that you can’t do it by a book., it s almost a native asset.
There is a discipline component, some basic structure you can build on, even some software that can help, but if you are unable to smile to person you have already met, even briefly because you are unable to remember even a small details about your last encounter, well you have a lot of work to do.
There is another theory I have developed, might be a bit simplistic, but it s a good starting point (again, most of it comes natural). Some people are absolutely unable to shift the relationship they have from mono-dimensional to multi-dimensional. How well do you really know someone if the only data points you have are his/her budget, what he/she buys and how much money he or she has to invest (picking few data as an example) ?
The simple fact of all of us being human before an investor, an entrepreneur, a banker or a businessman makes the interaction extremely shallow with someone that does not show any empathy or willingness to explore who we are for real and what are the other pillars of ourselves as a person.
One could say this is emotional intelligence, and – again – you are gifted with it or less. I suppose we all can work on it. Still, in the jungle of relationships, some are much better equipped than others.
And it fascinates me.