The power of networks

I was speaking with a contractor who lamented the need to get his head around social media and digital marketing. He wasn’t sure how to go about this or even whether he needed it. It reminded me of other business people I’ve encountered over the year who have expressed reluctance to adopt new technology. Technologies included cell phones, email, text as well as challenging the need to create a website. Trying different things opens opportunities, if for no reason than you are looking at something different or thinking about something differently. Perspectives change or get challenged.

Businesses must approach their markets with an open mind, open enough to see new things or see old things differently. That’s where opportunity is borne. So why are so many businesses reluctant to do this? It’s a personal choice to open or close doors. There are so many new concepts… Technologies, products, processes, business models… ‘Erupting’ into the marketplace that you’d think, in and of itself, that would stimulate innovation and risk taking.

If we do things differently, embrace new channels, or tools, we stimulate our minds, fuel creativity and open ourselves to new opportunities. Sometimes it’s as simple as meeting someone new, reading a different book, walking down a different street. Getting the mind off autopilot, stimulating it through change, can have a big impact on creativity, and businesses are creators… Or they aren’t around for long.

As the world picks up speed and change accelerates, which by all counts is happening, it is the risk takers and innovators that are positioning themselves to take advantage of opportunities. From my perspective some of the ways to feed change and innovation are through networks. Businesses thrive on the power of networking. We understand that people refer other people, love to learn and tell stories about others, whether celebrating a great success or lamenting an unexpected disappointment.

What social media does is easily expand networks, creating a forum to find like minded or challenge other minded, including our own. It provides a broad enough network to learn and explore new ideas, tap into group think about a wide cross section of perspectives, or to influence or be influenced; to test ideas. I’ve been amazed at the receptivity on Social Media to simple messages, shared ideas including new markets or products. Social Media is not about selling, it’s about engaging. It isn’t about promotion, it’s about informing. Perhaps too, it’s about celebrating innovation, teams and ideas, or even creating goodwill.

It is a viable tool and one that any business owner should engage meaningfully, with few direct expectations, other than deepening and widening networks and, with that, spheres of influence.

LincEdge, though not a Social Media application, is a network. Its intention is to foster and align ‘safe’ networks designed for a specific purpose, which is fast and easy access to skilled labour. It does this by introducing and facilitating connections between Independents and businesses that may have, and or need, quality skilled labour capacity. This happens most often on a just in time basis. For some, this may seem threatening. However, there are real challenges due to the growing demands on a shrinking supply of skilled labour; fewer youth are choosing skill labour while the number of retirees is growing. Finding a safe, fast and efficient way to access skilled capacity makes good sense.

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Head shot photograph of Marilyn Sanford

Marilyn Sanford is the co-founder and CEO of LincEdge.

In the past, she had co-founded and ran a custom install firm for 24 years.

You can find Marilyn on LinkedIn.

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