Building a successful network was never an easy task. However, many networks of various sizes and purposes have found great success in the past. So, what is the key to a successful network, and how can you turn your own into a bona fide powerhouse? This article compiles 5 quintessential nuggets of wisdom that will help you get there, fast.
Your members are your real product
This one is pretty straight forward on the surface, some of you may even think “Well duh, access to other members is the main thing that most networks sell” and you would be right to think so. However, it is the underlying consequence of that fact that is not always properly formulated or addressed. If your members are your product, then it falls onto you to make sure that:
a. That product answers the needs of your customers – You’ve established a set of criteria that each member must meet in order to join and be a valuable resource to other members.
b. That product is readily available – You’ve ensured that members can easily find and connect with the members that they need to reach.
c. That product evolves with customer expectations – You have established avenues for feedback and suggestions, and constantly seek out new ways of involving your members to give them more value for their buck.
The frequency of interactions between members is key
If your network is spread across a large geographical area, then your members are likely not going to interact with each other regularly. This is a big problem for networks. As mentioned in point 1, your members are your product, this means that if your members only communicate with each other during the 2 or 3 events you plan each year, they are only using your product a couple of times a year.
Now, imagine that you subscribed to a new streaming service and realized after a while that you only used it a couple of times a year, what would you do? In all likelihood, you would cancel your subscription.
Of course, a streaming service is far from a perfect analogy, but the underlying principle remains the same, the more a product or service can insert itself into customers’ daily lives, the more it is able to retain these customers over time. In that vein, the frequency of interactions between your members will have a huge impact on your ability to retain your members over a longer period of time with minimal effort on your part.
Privacy isn’t an option, it’s a necessity
If you’ve read points 1 and 2, you’ve probably realized that the cornerstone of your network will be member-to-member communication. This means that your members are likely to expose sensitive – and potentially personal – information through their exchanges with other members. Do not let them do so on a platform that does not guarantee total privacy. Ideally, you should aim to provide your own private environment – rather than an open platform like WhatsApp or Facebook – where members will be able to reach out to each other with peace of mind. MixR is a perfect choice for you to do just that.
Build your network like a fellowship, not a membership
Let’s keep on building upon our previous points and ask ourselves: Now that my members can better communicate, how can I use this to further improve my value proposition? Or, What do my members expect out of the conversations they are having, and how can I help them get what they want?
Now, let’s not play the guessing game. Sure, you can always ask your members (see 1.c.) but what happens if they each want something different, or worse, what if they formulate their expectations on the fly, without looping you in?
Remember that your members are your product, so what you want is to make sure that your members are willing to help each other. The best way to make this happen is to create a relationship driven network based on camaraderie and belongingness to a community. Doing so can help members feel connected to each other in a more meaningful way and be more likely to get what they want out of each other. Involve your members, push them to get to know each other on a personal level, come up with terms of endearment (think Amazonians, Googlers, Tweeps, …), etc.
Give your members the right tools to take advantage of your network
From visio-conferencing to peer-to-peer messaging, there is no shortage of platforms that can help you deliver an outstanding client experience to your members. When looking for a platform, refer to the points above to gauge its fit. The right platform can make all the difference, so don’t make your decision lightly, and make sure that the platform you use answers your needs as exhaustively as possible.
We recommend MixR as your platform of choice, you can learn more about MixR by clicking here.