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The Power of the Network

30 Apr

Social networking has been enabling business in powerful new ways, especially for B2C products.  However, nobody is going to ‘Click to Buy!’ $285,000 of log management tools or $8000 of Active Directory utilities for their enterprise without talking to someone first.  The simple fact is B2B technology products need to be sold by someone and that’s why they just don’t fit in the B2C online world of Facebook or other online marketplaces.

The alternative – a direct sales force – is frightfully expensive and can actually be thought of as the brick-and-mortar equivalent of the sales function.  Amazon and, to a lesser extent, Barnes and Noble figured out that brick and mortar bookstores weren’t the future and Borders figured it out too late.  However, technology companies are faced with the dilemma of how to develop and fund that direct sales force when they have a new specialty product that needs to be sold.  The current brick-and-mortar way of doing it was to get lots of funding to build a direct sales team – and give up a lot of equity in the process if they are even able to get the attention of a venture capitalist.  Many products are in such narrow niches that they will never get the attention of a VC – even though their market appeal may be vast.

Our Social Nature

We are by nature social creatures.  Our first inclination when we want new information is to ask our friends and people we respect.   We trust others we know over strangers, over web sites and especially over pushy sales people.  This is not a new thing.  Several hundred years ago domestic help couldn’t get a new job without a letter of reference.  I have a copy of a letter from my great grandfather’s commanding officer from his Union Army unit recommending him to anyone needing “a sober and reliable man and a good soldier.”

Today is no different.  When we need to find a good plumber, a new job or information on a sturdy washing machine we first turn to our trusted network.  That query usually takes the shape of “do you know directly or do you know of anyone who…?”  If that doesn’t pay off then there are zillions of community boards, bloggers, etc. in addition to the vendor web site.

LinkedIn has laid the groundwork for keeping in touch with business contacts and is outstanding for finding jobs or job candidates and okay for industry conversations.  Facebook is great for sharing personal information but is extremely limited in value for business to business.  Both lack a marketplace or the ability to build your own private network of interested parties – beyond simple discussion groups – with the goal of doing business.

We Are Our Network

Humans have always identified themselves by the group, tribe, club, team, et al they belong to and I expect they always will.  For the last 100 years or so, professionally we have identified ourselves by the company we work for.  If you didn’t think of yourself as a company man, you at least identified yourself through your employer: “I work for MegaWidgets.”

As jobs for life have disappeared, average tenures at companies (at least in technology) are measured in just a few years.  Bump and other apps for iOS and Android are making even business cards seem quaint.  The rise in Groups on LinkedIn tells me that the need to identify ourselves through some commonality with others is as strong as ever.  The missing piece, however, has been a way to make money or sell stuff via that group or network.

Enter the Business Network

That’s where Biznet3 is fundamentally different.  I’ll illustrate this through an actual success story that happened recently.  The full story is here.  The short version is the CEO of a small company wanted to expand the business to cover selling to the US government but he didn’t know anyone directly nor did he have the money or skills to hire a direct sales rep and he didn’t want to acquire those skills.  So he did the next best thing: he asked a friend who knew lots of sales people and who could make a recommendation.  Shortly after the connection was made, the CEO had two sales into the government, a clear pathway onto the GSA schedule and someone who could take it the rest of the way – all without an expensive hiring and possible funding process.  He is going to develop his new private network further to create virtual channels for his other product lines.

The implications for product professionals and innovators are profound.  Innovators with brand new products can tap their first and second level networks to find people, resellers or other sales networks who WANT to sell their product to customers who want to buy it, all without having to hire an expensive sales team.  Product marketers and product managers can build a private network around a specialty product to reach more customers, faster and more efficiently than ever before.

The Network Is Us

Despite what Sun Microsystems said in the 1990’s, we are all the network now.  The tools are there on Biznet3 to create your own private networks around specialty products and services to provide sales, support and collaboration – and network members have a way to make money from their participation in that network.  The company of the future consists of all the private networks you participate in and Biznet3 is where you participate in and manage them.  It’s free to sign up and put your products in the marketplace.  The first 500 resellers to join will have their membership fees waived permanently.  Join now.

About Biznet3

Biznet3 is about Setting Ideas (and People)Free. Ideas for new products. Ideas for new sales networks. Ideas for working and making money through the power of the community.

As Amazon was a new kind of community book company, Biznet3 is a new kind of community technology company that provides a Meeting Place, a Work Place and a Market Place focused on specialty solutions.

Biznet3 provides those services by being a convergence point for buyers, sellers, and enablers working together in a business network to create value and drive innovation.

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