11 August 2006

The trouble with networking and loyalty

Both in life and in work, I’ve found networking and loyalty go hand in hand. They are inseparable, like twins. The principles they are built on are not just similar, but intertwined.

When it comes to networking and/or loyalty, the premise we normally work on is that both networks and loyalty programmes are set up for our benefit. They are there to help us achieve our goals and objectives, our jobs and businesses, our passions and happiness. It doesn’t matter what or how much the other people – i.e. the members, users, customers, business associates, etc. – gain from the networks or the loyalty programmes, so long we benefit from it.

We believe, a network or a loyalty programme is really an extension of who we are, and that it should cater to our needs first. Sometimes, at all cost. We believe that we own the network or the loyalty programme, and it is our birthright to leverage it to our greatest advantage. Sadly, the trouble with networking, as well as loyalty, is the superior attitude with which we embark on it – and try to maintain it. No wonder so few social or business or even niche networks, not to mention customer loyalty programmes, are successful.

So, what should we do to improve the situation?

We need to understand two things clearly. First, we alone don’t own the network or the loyalty programme. Every member, user, customer, associate or person – in short, every connection – in the network or in the loyalty programme is a part owner and has a stake in it. Second, the network or the loyalty programme must benefit every member, if it is to benefit us in any way. Perhaps it will not benefit all of them, nor on every occasion, nor in equal measures, nor immediately, nor exactly when we plan for it… but some benefit must accrue in every member’s favour in the long run.

This is likely to happen more often – and with much more payback – if we realise that we really need to care more about the success of the people in our networks and our loyalty programmes, than we do for ourselves. For, therein lies the essence of networking and loyalty.

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