The Power of Networks: Sandy Kennedy, CEO, Entrepreneurial Scotland

FREE PICTURES : Entrepreneurial Scotland's Annual Conference at Gleneagles. Picture Robert Perry 21st April 2016 Please credit photo to Robert Perry Image is free to use in connection with the promotion of the above company or organisation. 'Permissions for ALL other uses need to be sought and payment make be required. Note to Editors: This image is free to be used editorially in the promotion of the above company or organisation. Without prejudice ALL other licences without prior consent will be deemed a breach of copyright under the 1988. Copyright Design and Patents Act and will be subject to payment or legal action, where appropriate. NB -This image is not to be distributed without the prior consent of the copyright holder. in using this image you agree to abide by terms and conditions as stated in this caption. All monies payable to Robert Perry (PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE THIS CAPTION) This image is intended for Editorial use (e.g. news). Any commercial or promotional use requires additional clearance. Copyright 2016 All rights protected. first use only contact details Robert Perry 07702 631 477 Robert Perry reserves the right to pursue unauthorised use of this image . If you violate my intellectual property you may be liable for damages, loss of income, and profits you derive from the use of this image.Do not underestimate the power of networks argues Sandy Kennedy, Chief Executive of Entrepreneurial Scotland and the Saltire Foundation in his latest blog.

An important lesson to learn early on in your career as a business leader is that you simply cannot know everything. It’s vital that you remain curious about how others work and that you keep learning. Being innovative means that you will have to learn from others and be able to adapt, identifying those able to share their skills and knowledge. The people you know who keep coming up with new ideas, efficiencies and solutions. This collective learning is extremely powerful and there is growing body of research that suggests it is found in dynamic organisations which connect inspiring and innovative people like Entrepreneurial Scotland.

We often make assumptions that our knowledge comes from the information we consciously consume: books, TV, radio, social media and magazines but infact 50% of what we learn is through our subconscious. We learn through our observations and from our peers.

Both consciously and sub-consciously we are hugely influenced by the people we surround ourselves with.  So the company you keep is a major factor in how you think and feel. As a business leader it is really important to spend time with people you admire and really want to learn from. Effective leaders are keen to be with people that are more knowledgeable than they are and the best leaders are those who are willing to surround themselves with people that they see as better than themselves.

Just look at the evidence around you. It is evident in the business world, in our social lives and perhaps, most obviously in sport. It’s no coincidence that family groups become successful. Our very own Andy, Jamie and Judy Murray, Venus and Serena Williams and triathletes Alistair and Jonathon Brownlee. Peer groups encourage success and become a magnet for attracting more success.  That is why we encourage a cohort mentality in all our Saltire Programmes.

The most powerful and effective networks are those that are diverse. Ones that provide meaningful opportunities to explore new ideas and different ways of thinking. The self-affirmation that comes from spending time with likeminded people may provide successful results in the short term but it won’t encourage innovation. The challenge for leaders like yourself is to keep expanding and diversifying your network to ensure you connect with people from other sectors, cultures, career stages to gain new knowledge and fuel your learning.

Health Warning!  The power of networks can have devastating effects.  If a network is closed and self-affirming it can lead to a scaled version of group think. The Wall Street Crash and other bubbles were caused by the adverse effect of networks.   The network of people involved were all applying the same ideas. Ideas that were getting results and where there was simply no challenge until the financial sector crashed. Those who engage with a more diverse network will be much better at problem solving, taking on board different perspectives and continuing to innovate. If your network is limited to the group of people that have the same background as you, work in the same industry and do the same job then all you will hear is the same solutions.

So be conscious of your network. Seek out people who think differently. Entrepreneurial Scotland’s network encourages diversity of thinking regardless of gender, age, class, profession as we know that will make Scotland even more successful and more focused with our vision to make Scotland the most entrepreneurial society in the world.

I often hear people say “I’d love to go to that event but I have no time!” Please stop and think. Each time you turn down an invitation you are missing out on opportunities you may not even have known you were looking for. The Entrepreneurial Scotland network is vibrant and energetic creating more chances for serendipitous collisions to occur. A chance occurrence that is beneficial when two people meet for a relatively short time. So make the time to put yourself in environments that are different and ignite your entrepreneurial mindset.  Venturefest Scotland is one such opportunity so make sure you register as tickets are limited.

Entrepreneurial Scotland has a network for you whatever stage you are in your career and whether you work in private, public or the third sector. We exist to help our members thrive providing the support and connections they need to grow. Being part of the Entrepreneurial Scotland network allows you to access amazing people and exciting opportunities. You will find that you are only one call away from getting the advice and encouragement you need whether it’s investment, funding, access talent etc.

Never underestimate the power of networks. Surround yourself with great people. Diversify your network and put yourself in different environments. Most importantly of all engage with the people who can help inspire you, develop your skills and connect you with people who can help you succeed. At Entrepreneurial Scotland we know just who they are!

If you would like to join the Entrepreneurial Scotland Network or participate in the Saltire Programmes visit our website

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