Corporate Networking: That was then this is Now

When you really sit down and think about it, it’s rather stunning that many of today’s business models have been around since the 1900s. And while it’s true that change for the sake of change is bad, stagnation for the fear of change is worse.

For years business has been focused on a push model where companies made forecasts and planned every little detail. This model needs market stability, minimal variation and prediction based on past performance.

The pull model allows a business to be a counter puncher, reacting to the often chaotic forces of today’s world. Pull models are based on understanding and responding effectively to customer demand.

And isn’t that the best way of doing business? OK, it’s not the most comfortable and snuggly place to be and yes, I miss the old stereotype of the “man in the grey flannel suit” too, but things have changed and it’s time we all started thinking differently. In fact, with the power of social media and online networking, this is no longer a matter of choice – businesses that don’t change will face Darwinian consequences.

A lot of things are changing today. In a push world, networking becomes even more crucial because you need to be able to draw on the power of collaboration and collective knowledge. The impact of social networking and remote collaboration are going to fundamentally impact how business works.

According to a new whitepaper from BT, companies that exploit the power of social networking tools can benefit from the following:

  • Better collaboration which translates into innovation
  • A strong feeling of community and collaboration means less employee churn
  • Good sales from strong, well nurtured networks

While I think that most successful professionals understand the value of building strong networks, the idea of moving the building and nurturing of those relationships to a virtual world can certainly be intimidating. However, it’s only the tools that have changed and not the methodology. Instead of a phone or a power lunch, now you have Twitter, LinkedIn, email and Facebook.

When you have someone balk at this new way of networking, try explaining to them that this is no different than being a great musician and performing at a new venue. You don’t have to relearn how to play the instrument, you just have to play with the same skill in a new auditorium. The audience may seem unfamiliar at first because of the new surroundings, but your aptitude and ability will quickly compensate for any discomfort you might feel. It’s only the venue which has changed and that is not anywhere near as important as your talent, experience and skill.

Good networkers are productive because they either have the answers or know someone who does. A company which can connect and build these knowledge networks has a real advantage. Today, you can expand your workforce around the world and take advantage of the best possible talent available because we have the technology to connect people and help them collaborate, effortlessly, intuitively and effectively.

Dr. Nicola J. Millard, Customer Experience Futurologist with BT has released a fascinating whitepaper detailing the advantages of networking with today’s new technology. It’s titled “Clouds, Crowds and Customers: Doing Business as Unusual” and aside from being a good read, it may completely change how you view traditional working arrangements.

If you are in Amsterdam or plan to be in the area around June 15th, you might want to sign up for BT’s business day in Amsterdam, where the good doctor will be speaking. You’ll learn more about cloud computing, collaboration and social media. All these factors are going to fundamentally challenge and change those traditional business models established way back when.