Originally posted at www.networkinginvan.com.
Networking in Vancouver...I’m so thrilled to be a part of this community and I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts and insights with you all in this platform.
As this is my first post as a Guest Blogger, I found myself reflecting on the networking phenomenon. I call it a phenomenon because at one time, networking was something that happened organically, in your community, through your connections and by the extent of your involvement. Today, things are different. Communities are generally larger, more dispersed, and arguably, more distracted. In response, networking has become a focused and defined activity, rather than the naturally occurring result of daily community connections.
While assumptions are a worthwhile tool to use within the right context, they can be a double-edged sword ... they can just as easily lead you astray.
Case in point: the results of your research are not at all what you expect ... and perhaps not what you want to believe. Even though you've been diligent in your planning, you're certain that the data must be wrong. Your first reaction is to question your assumptions about the design of your program.
STOP RIGHT THERE!
What is it that separates a good business from a great business? A good business adds value ... a great business ALWAYS adds value!
I was chatting with a client the other day, and he shared his insight that most business models are based on providing some sort of value (or at least the perception of value) to the marketplace, but that mostly the value is fleeting and businesses are able to hide behind a veil of imperfect information. That is, they know what effort and cost it takes to provide the service, but their clients don't really have a way to know that information, and rely on their trust in the service provider to believe that they are getting good value for their investment.
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Differentiation is the key to long-lasting business success and any one of us can create it in our business. Simply being Different is a lot harder and much less effective than being Differentiated. Have you made this distinction?
At one time, at a time not so far away, it was a lot easier to be different and stand out. There were fewer players in the market. The markets were smaller, and less global, and competitors from other markets were less inclined to be competing with you on your home turf. Communities were more loyal and patrons were less fickle. Remember the good ol' days?
But wow! How things have changed! Today, with the simplification of technology, the globalization of business, and the easy access to information, it has become virtually impossible to stand out, in any crowd, let alone at home. This reality has hit the small business community especially hard. How do you even begin to thrive, let alone succeed in this environment?