Thanks to Jeremy Cuthbert of Brand and Marketing agency, Journey, for the simple but accurate observation that, though many of us have had a pretty good if boring lockdown, all is not necessarily well.
If you are in the digital industries you have probably had a fair amount of work on. In law and consultancies, a shift in focus has often been required but when things change, expert advice is needed. So most of our clients are doing 'ok' in an uncertain way.
So far so fine, but the danger for firms, says Jeremy, is now. The danger is that without social interaction outside of your bubble, your network will shrink. Networks have an organic quality. If you don't feed them, they will wither and die.
And if they shrink, then their value shrinks faster. A network of 100 people who all know each other has 10,000 connections. At 50, this number drops to 2,500 connections. With 10, it is just 100 connections.
Professional Services firms do not typically have an explicit sales function. And many shy away from the word 'sales' completely. Instead they rely on client recommendations, alumni, friendships and family - ie their networks.
I have been involved in three recessions. The Dotcom Bust of 2001, the Financial Crash of 2008 and our present Covid recession. And one observation is that, for many, there is nothing 'crash' or 'bust' about recessions. They are typified by the absence of action. Nothing happens - which can have terrible consequences - but they are characterised by wide-scale inaction. Indeed this is the dangerous bit because it is so difficult to know when to act, when there is no trigger.
So the point Jeremy alluded to is that the shrinking network, seemingly innocuous, may be the silent killer of the Professional Services firms unless they address it with genuine focus and vigour.
A network effect is the effect described in economics and business that an additional user of goods or services has on the value of that product to others. When a network effect is present, the value of a product or service increases according to the number of others using it.