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From zodiac signs to network analysis (III) – Tying it all together

Now we’re ready to create our star map – aka the business network.

1. Look into the mirror

To know what you need you first have to know what you have. The first step is to identify yourself in the three key areas.

What industry are you in and what are your key activities in the business? What are your key skillsets? Finally, I guess you don’t need to ask yourself where you’re from.

2. Map out your strong ties

Identify the people that you work closely with. This could be within your organization, or those that are within your supply chain. They could also be key contacts that you partner closely with and have collaborations with. Try to map them by sector, skillset and place of origin.

3. Get creative

Looking for weak ties are not easy, typically this is the reason why they are weak ties. These parties don’t naturally come to mind. Start from people that you work with but are loosely connected, then try to expand your imagination to “what if” situations.

What if I wanted to expand from Europe to Asia. Do I have any contacts? What if I get this amazing opportunity to start developing my online well-being course to corporates. Do I have a super corporate guru to turn to? What if someone loves the organic cotton in my t-shirts, and asks me to start designing functional uniforms for their hotel staff. Do I know who to talk to about the hospitality industry and what people seek in a good uniform?

Often times, you might not really know what you’re looking for. Let your mind go wild and take the time to think through this part of the exercise.

4. Be true to yourself

Looking for weak ties to complete your business network does not mean you have to make connections with people that do not share the same values as you. You need to be surrounded by people that do not conflict with your personal beliefs. This could be the core value of your business, the consciousness to the environment, the ethics that you hold firm of.

5. Putting it all together

Finally, you need an action plan. This way, you tactically track what business connections you make and how they could potentially relate to your business. Note this down and come back to it from time to time. How much has your business network expanded? Has it been expanded in a meaningful way? What are the opportunities that you have identified with each of the weak ties? What value can you bring to those connections?

Sometimes you might not be able to put an action plan for every weak tie that you wish to make. This is a long-term plan that you need to keep revisiting.

Does all of this still sound a bit too much to put together? Here is a template called the star map that will help you put all the pieces together. The star map is a categorical approach in how you wish to complete your business network. Accompanied with the fact that roughly through 6 connections you will always find the person you need. The map is to help you focus on what are the business relationships that you ideally should try to invest your time in developing on without being overwhelmed.