Our clients are always looking for the right word to describe their networks. Consortium, ecosystem, platform, movement, field, etc. Though ‘marketplace’ seldom makes the list, we often find it’s the best word for the job.
It’s well-intentioned – romantic, even – to say “we want our community to grow organically” or “we really want our community to lead and we’ll just be a community member.” But if your goal is to derive real value (i.e., relationships, intelligence, innovation) from the interaction, then you probably need to play a more active and organized role in the network. That’s why the marketplace description is helpful; it requires an organization to map their network’s supply and demand as well as the services that connect the two. The transactional implication may suck the romance right out of it, but the reality is that without direction, your community is left guessing at what you want. And in our experience, they won’t spend a lot of time guessing before they move on.
So the question we ask clients is “what role do you play in the supply and demand of your market?” It is a tough question to answer, but one that left unattended will likely lead to few results.
Photo: Pak Gwei