There’s a huge difference — qualitatively and in terms of results — between time engaged with small networks and time engaged with larger networks. So, be careful how you spend your time, with whom and where.
One way to think about this publication is as the hub of a large, well-established network of private wealth advisers, consultants and investment managers — the people who read and refer frequently to this publication and its web-related resources. Each of you reading this publication conceptually constitutes a node in that large, global network.
A representative cross-section of that readership attends and participates in our annual Editorial Advisory Board meeting for this publication, where they have the chance to interact face-to-face, socialize, communicate, and exchange ideas and perspectives with each other. An even larger cross-section attends and participates in our face-to-face Visions, Insights & Perspectives events for our Institutional Real Estate and Institutional Investing in Infrastructure audiences.
Our goal in hosting all of these meetings, as well as the hundreds of virtual and face-to-face roundtable discussions we host throughout the year, is to help educate and strengthen the connections between the members of the wealth adviser community and the product providers who comprise the nodes of those networks. While the initial backbone of those networks originally was established more than 35 years ago, we continue to work on expanding those connections for the benefit of everyone in the network.
One of the charges each of our managing directors has been given over the past few years, for example, is to open up a minimum of two new relationships with institutional investors (for our real estate and infrastructure publications) and private wealth adviser types each and every month, with the objective of broadening and deepening the number and quality of nodes in those networks. This includes encouraging them to sign up for our daily news alert services and become subscribers — and habitual readers — of those news alerts, our publications and their related websites.
Why this particular focus, and why these marching orders? Kevin Kelly, in New Rules for the New Economy, explains the value of a network: “Mathematics says the sum value of a network increases as the square of the number of members. In other words, as the number of nodes in a network increases arithmetically, the value of the network increases exponentially. … Adding a few more members can dramatically increase the value for all members.” The challenge, of course, for all of us engaged in managing networks is remaining relevant. Kelly also notes, “The only factor becoming scarce in a world of abundance is human attention.”
So, the size of the network matters, as does the number of people enrolled in the network, as well as the number of people engaging in that network on a regular basis. It also matters what kinds of information are being circulated and exchanged among the participants in those networks.
All of us have adopted incredibly short attention spans, which requires that any time spent consuming content and connecting with others in the network must create real value. This also requires a change in focus for the ones managing a network, like us. Kelly explains, “In the network economy a firm’s primary focus shifts from maximizing the firm’s value to maximizing the network’s value.”
This has always been our mission — to support and help satisfy the information needs of the investment and private wealth advisory communities we were formed to serve and, in doing so, to also serve the many firms that underwrite the work that we do through our sponsorship programs. In addition, our mission always has included promoting the formation of new relationships while enhancing the strength and value of those relationships.
Today, more than ever, we’re here to listen, observe, reflect and provide perspective while amplifying the value of the relationships between the members of our network. As always, we pursue these objectives in an effort to complete our long-term mission of serving the interests of private wealth advisers and institutional investors around the globe.
Because of the size and quality of the network we’ve built over the past 35 years, we believe we’re in a unique position to accomplish that mission — which doesn’t mean it’s not important for all of us engaged in that network to be careful. As always, it’s important for each one of us to be very, very careful. After all, it’s a wacky world out there.
Geoffrey Dohrmann is president, CEO and editor-in-chief of Institutional Real Estate Inc.