• Growing Ecosystems – the future of networking

    Everyone on the planet has their moments of brilliance – when they come up with a new idea,.  Most of us have that secret dream we have harboured for far too long.  We sometimes wonder whether it will ever see the light of day.

    Social media shows that people are making their ideas happen every day.  And we get to see, read or hear about them.  From Mukesh Ambani’s Jio, to Elon Musk’s mars mission, to our local chaiwala’s ambition for a Biryani shop and my friend Madhur Jethlia’s Maddy’s pasta bar franchise, these ideas have seen the light of day and it is now time to sustain them.  But what about our ideas?  How do we make them happen?

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    There are millions of people across the globe who have complimentary skill sets to you.  If you could get together with them, could you bring your idea into reality? How do you find the right partners to help you?  And when do you give up?

    Let me take you for a minute to nature and ecosystems.  On a simplistic level, a seed starts to grow when it has the right conditions or ingredients around it.  The earth, the sun, water all play a part and unknowingly support the seed to grow.  And as the seed turns into a tree or a plant, it unconsciously supports the environment around it, being shelter for some, food for others, or even gaseous exchange like carbon dioxide to oxygen.  The seed can’t survive and GROW in a vacuum.  Likewise, we can not succeed by ourselves.  And that’s where our ecosystems come in.  Over our lives,  we have the opportunity to create and be part of ecosystems of people.  And the sum of the parts is greater than the whole.  But in order to get the benefit, you have to be plugged in and develop your own ecosystems.

    That is why chambers of commerce, social groups and now networks online have become increasingly important.  They connect us to others, who can connect us to others.  Often we try through our networks to get an idea going, but we fail to do so.  It may be because we were not speaking to the right people.  And that’s where I go back to nature.  I don’t think a seed has any idea that it could become a tree.  It just automatically takes in from the earth, from the sun and from the rain.  And GROWS.  In turn it nourishes the others around it.  In the same way, it’s a great idea to be in touch with people, just to be in touch.  No other reason – and as we interact with others, ideas come up that we can support with.  In the same space, others will automatically support us.

    The seed doesn’t ask the sun for permission to use the sun’s energy – the energy is there for all to have and the seed just takes it in.  Whilst it is not exactly the same, but in a similar vein, people won’t know that you’re looking for help unless you let them know what you are doing.  Most people generally feel great when that are asked to support others and fulfilled when they can actually contribute.

    TiE Pune is a great example.  The Indus Entrepreneurs in Pune have Charter Members that support budding entrepreneurs to navigate the maze of making an idea reality, then commercializing it.  They help with writing business plans, coaching on making presentations and introductions to investors.  Most importantly they act as guides and coaches when entrepreneurs are faced with making business decisions.  The British Business Group and Mahratta Chamber of Commerce offer great networking platforms to meet other entrepreneurs and seasons business veterans, as well as learn about opportunities in other countries.  The Charter Members are just there to support others.  That is what they do.

    When the right people see a good idea, they can make it flourish.  But you need to know them in order to make that happen.  And it’s best when you’ve known people for years, because you WANT to know them not because you NEED to know them.

    So remember, you won’t get known by staying at home.  Put a foot out there, whether in the digital world or the physical world.  Get to know a diverse number of people and interact with them regularly.  You never know what could be possible.

    Just one final thought though.  And that is about the intention of the interaction you have with someone else.  I’ll give you an example.  Those who know me or have heard me speak, will be aware that I have been writing a series of novels called The Ojas Chronicles.  Over the years, friends of friends have put me in touch with researchers, publishers, the film industry and theatre groups.  I don’t know where it is going to go.  One thing I know is that if I don’t interact with any of these people, nothing will happen. And when I do interact with them, my first interest genuinely isn’t ‘selling’ the series I’m writing.  I’m interested in knowing who they are and whether I might be able to support them with something completely different to my book. If the book takes off through them, it’s a bonus.  But to help someone else fulfill something they are passionate about – well that’s priceless.

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