The Power of Networking

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On July 2018, Forbes published a story of “America’s Women Billionaires”, it put Kylie Jenner on the cover, and titled her as the youngest-ever-self-made billionaire.[1] Despite the controversy, it is still impressive how a-21-year-old gained $900 million fortune in 3 years. Most of her fortune comes from her strong social media influence. Using her platform, she managed to get million dollars endorsement deals and successfully promote her cosmetic line into a huge hit that made the company’s valuation up to $800 million. Ultimately, how she made money is by leveraging her social network to the extreme. Not just for marketing, she also uses her network for other part of the business. The multi-million-dollar company initially started in her kitchen and only consisted of 7 full time and 5 part time employees. How? Well, she outsourced her manufacturing and sales, while the finance and PR are being done by her own mother!

How does she build an empire by leveraging her network?  How does network work and how can we utilise it? By understanding about network, you can cultivate it for advancing your business as well!

Why is Networking Important?

Network highly contributes in wide range of innovations. Apart from Kylie Cosmetics, network admittedly has contributed to other major innovations. From the adoption of electricity to award winning digital tool like sparks. Network is an essential social capital, that connects knowledge and people through organisational boundaries.[2] Not only it is useful for your learning process, it also can help your innovation to be widely adopted in the market.[3]

The Role of Network in the Innovation Process

It is essential for you to acquire the necessary information in doing innovation process. And you can only do so through learning, and creativity.

Yes, it is not easy to come up with brilliant idea, well, here is where network can help you with that!

Having a wide range of network can help you to access different industries, and relevant actors, that allow you to absorb as many information as possible. This will enable you to learn, process, and eventually recombine the information to create new creative ideas!

There are many examples in how network has benefited firm to create million-dollars-idea. For instance, IDEO as a global design and innovation company, has worked with many reputable brands. This makes them as broker that acquire knowledge from different industries, and recombine it for new product innovations, such as the future kitchen for IKEA, The smart jacket for Levi’s and many more![4]

The next step is how to make your innovation widely accepted in the market. Again, network plays an important role in this stage. How? well, the reality is, people’s preference is easily influenced by their peers or others whose social status is perceived similar or higher. This is called network effect.[5] The real-life example of this case is how social influencers have become one of the most powerful marketing tools today. Not only that, network also responsible for creating trends that can speed up the adoption process. The viral nature of Pokémon Go and the success of Kylie Cosmetics are few of the evidences on how powerful trend and social influence are. According to PR Week, corporate public relations and marketing professionals in UK spent over £100,000 for influencers.[6] This proves that brands acknowledge the value of social influence and thus, allocate significant amount of funding towards it, in the hopes that it will help to increase their brand’s presence and adoption in the market.

Types of Connections in the Network

You may not realise but there are two types of connection in your regular social encounters, which are weak and strong ties.[7] Weak ties mostly occur between you and different group of people which most likely-if you can use it right, can lead you to creative ideas. Considering, your independent position to gather information objectively and recombine it. However, weak ties most likely have lack of trust. Thus, it is important for you to strengthen the connection. Small chats over coffee or drinks might work!

On the other hand, strong ties are usually formed within your inner circle, which has more trust within the group. Thus, supporting more detail knowledge transfer. However, it increases the chance for you to be in a situation where you tend to become similar minded with people around you.[1] This can potentially diminish the diversity of information and insight that you can get and create barrier for your creative ideas to flow.

It is clear that weak and strong ties have substantial role to the success of your innovation.[2] To nourish your creativity within your strong ties, try to expand your connection with people from different background.

While to strengthen connection within your weak ties, try to practice your listening skill. Essentially people love to talk about themselves. Try to create memorable impression and make them feel comfortable to be around you. Who knows?! they might just be the right person that can lead you to bigger opportunity!

Network has substantial role in commercial success of various products, services and other innovations. By understanding how network works, you can find ways to successfully utilise it and gain benefits from it.

[1] Ibid

[2] Ibid

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesdigitalcovers/2018/07/11/how-20-year-old-kylie-jenner-built-a-900-million-fortune-in-less-than-3-years/#1f00ef32aa62

[2] https://online.manchester.ac.uk/bbcswebdav/pid-6458899-dt-content-rid-27207310_1/courses/I3016-BMAN-61001-1181-1SE-011762/chapter2.pdf

[3] Ibid

[4] https://www.jstor.org/stable/2393655?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

[5] https://online.manchester.ac.uk/bbcswebdav/pid-6458899-dt-content-rid-27207310_1/courses/I3016-BMAN-61001-1181-1SE-011762/chapter2.pdf

[6] https://www.prweek.com/article/1443619/prs-spend-influencer-marketing

[7] https://online.manchester.ac.uk/bbcswebdav/pid-6458899-dt-content-rid-27207311_1/courses/I3016-BMAN-61001-1181-1SE-011762/chapter7.pdf

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Emilia Putri

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