How to build a sustainable and supportive network to increase the success of your business | QLab Insights

'...a personal network is a group of caring, committed people who have committed to maintain a relationship with an individual to support a specific set of activities.'


Reading the Wikipedia definition of "network" fills me with gratitude and joy: I am surrounded by caring and committed people who maintain a relationship with me and support my activities.

I realized these people did not fall from the sky; I had to win them. But interestingly, I am sure that "not knowing" that I had to beat them was the key, because I was authentic.

Today I want to share some insights about how I built my network and how it serves my business, QLab Think Tank. But first, I will define my understanding of networks, activities, and relationships.

Who is part of a network?

Your network comprises family members, friends, colleagues, collaborators, clients, and customers. There could be an inner circle and an outer circle, and then there are people on the periphery who are part of other networks of caring and committed people.

What kind of activities could your network support?

Family members and friends might support you in your personal affairs; they care about you based on an emotional relationship. Colleagues and cooperation partners may help you because you have the same interests or goals.

Clients and customers can support you by telling you their needs and problems. This helps you provide services and products that make them successful. In turn, you can become successful yourself.

What is a relationship?

In Company of OnePaul Jarvis quotes Matthew Lieberman, ULCA, as saying that "(...) belonging and connection are our most basic needs (...) because we humans are wired to connect. (Company of One, p. 191).

In my opinion, reliable relationships create value for everyone involved. The more you share, provide value and help, and connect with others, the more they will want to help you" (Company of One, p. 190).

I agree with Paul. If I have a sincere interest in helping others and sharing my knowledge to increase it, it also serves my network and me.

How my network serves my business

Personal network

When my co-founder Boris Gloger and I started building QLab, we talked to the people in our inner circle, told them about our idea, asked them for feedback, and asked them to contact potential customers.

Supported by the former employees of the company I had previously worked for, I came into contact with experts in sustainability and with our first customer. My former colleagues' trust in their network opened doors for me.

A. How to address the network of your network

  1. Start by telling your Inner Circle People (ICP) what you need and what you want to accomplish.
  2. Give them time to figure out who might support you.
  3. Send your ICPs an email with all the information about your company: Your goal, what you offer, how you work, what's in it for the new contact, and what you need from them, and that you'll be reaching out to them personally and at a specific time.
  4. Ask your ICPs to send the email to their network. (In my experience, people recommended by their ICP never refuse to talk to you).
  5. Contact your ICP's network via email within the promised time frame and offer two to three meeting opportunities. A get-to-know-you meeting should last no longer than 30 minutes.
  6. When contacting your ICPs network partners, go back to 3.
  7. After your brief introduction (5-8 minutes max), have your new contact introduce themselves and their company. I am very interested to know what they did in their previous life if they have children, where they like to travel, and what kind of sports they do. So don't be shy and try to make connections between your lives. People who sense that you are interested will tell you personal stories.

Linkedin network

When the QLab Think Tank was launched in December 2020, I invited my Linkedin network to follow my company. Within a few weeks, we already had about 500 followers, about 1/3 of my contacts. In the last 12 months, I have gained about 800 new followers and QLab has reached 1200 people.

B. How to approach new contacts on Linkedin

  1. When reaching out to people on Linkedin, don't just tag them; always leave a message saying what you want (same interests, interview request, face-to-face conversation, sharing expertise, etc.)
  2. Share the link to your company's website for more information.
  3. If they contact you, thank them and return to A 5: Offer two to three opportunities to meet. A get-to-know-you meeting should last no longer than 30 minutes.
  4. Follow the approach under A. How to approach your network's network.

'The critical factors for connecting with your network (...) Belonging and connecting are our fundamental needs (...) because humans are wired to connect.

Matthew Lieberman

As described above, it takes some hands-on work to build an engaging relationship. But in my humble opinion, the following aspects of your personality are critical:

  • Be authentic.
  • Be honest.
  • Be reliable.
  • Be genuinely interested.
  • Be thankful.
  • Be humble.
  • Share your knowledge.
  • Share your network.
  • Give without expecting to get something

What do you think is essential beyond these aspects? Thank you for reading!

Andrea Kuhfuss, co-founder and CEO of QLab Think Tank GmbH

Design Thinking Method Training

Online Workshop | QLab Think Tank GmbH

Language: German

Price: €450,- (€150,- for students)

November 22, 2023
09:30 - 17:30

Casino Futur, Bremen

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