I want to expand our boutique consulting firm but I am not sure how much time to spend in building my networks vs. building skills in various areas.
Every job has three attributes: knowledge, technique and judgment. A hundred years ago, an individual could have command over a particular discipline or industry in these three areas. Over time, the amount of knowledge has increased exponentially. About half of the technical knowledge a college student learns in freshman year is outdated by senior year. Technique also evolves, as new materials are invented, best practices are shared and refined, and new systems give rise to new disciplines. Finally, the effectiveness of the judgment of an individual decreases as the complexity of the problem increases.
In each of these attributes of a job, the network is increasingly important for effective performance. Shared knowledge trumps what is contained in a single brain, if it can even all be remembered. The thousands of even well-known techniques, or continually evolving variations thereof, are only available through a well-connected network. Finally, diversity of perspective and judgment based on probabilistic decision calculus (whether "two heads are better than one" or the wisdom of crowds) beats solo decision making.Tip:
The fields of medicine, engineering and law are great examples of where a single individual cannot provide the services needed in a complex world. This principle is no different for consultants, whose effectiveness depends on the knowledge, technique and judgment derived from their networks. Whether growing your business or serving clients, strengthening your networks is your most productive strategy and should be your top priority.© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA