Network and networking

There are few words more prolific in and central to the vocabulary of the early 21st century world than network. There are lots of definitions but they all derive from the basic meaning of an interconnected system of objects.

These objects can be:

  • electronic devices as in the case of a computer network
  • broadcast stations in the sense of television networks
  • colleagues of associates in a network organisation
  • friends in your personal network

Even the Internet is a shortening of internetworking.  Internetworking was used in the early days of Internet development to describe the development of protocols to allow different computer systems to talk to each other. Now it refers to the trade, products, and procedures that meet the challenge of making and administering internet works.

Interconnectedness is the essential element. A network is multi-dimensional with objects linked in all directions. Therefore, it is much stronger than a line system or a hierarchical system because if one linkage fails the system is still held together strongly.

Networking, the verb, is actively seeking out and promoting yourself to people that can help you with your career or social ambitions. A strong social and professional network is now an essential part of modern life.

Harvard Business Review studied 165 lawyers at a large US law firm.  They found that the lawyers’ success depended on their ability to network effectively. This was important in getting themselves assigned to choice clients internally.  Externally it was important in bringing business into the firm. The lawyers who found it distasteful had fewer billable hours.

Using online social networking to promote and advertise business is essential to online marketing. Online databases, such as MySpace (now gone), Facebook or LinkedIn, enable individuals or businesses to develop personal and professional networks online. They can be used to attract business.

Madrigal Communications suggests that you strongly use networking as part of your marketing mix.