Needless to say, there is no point spending time on a social network website if you are the only person who ever visits it. In fact, if most of your friends are members of a rival social networking site you would eventually find yourself there, or find yourself a web outcast. This leads to a catch-22. Most nightclub and restaurant owners are long familiar with the predicament - the more popular your establishment becomes, the more people want to get into it. However, the key predicament is always - how to start off the process. An excellent book "The Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwell  discusses this phenomenon in great detail and attributes it to three rules - getting the first movers (law of the few - the mavens, the connectors and the salesmen), the stickiness factor (simple ways to make things memorable) and the power of context (small factors in the environment and the relationships that create and sustain impetus). If you have not yet read this book, I highly recommend it. It is neither advisable, nor possible, to paraphrase the excellent content of this book, and Gladwell's writing style is extraordinarily eloquent - something I cannot emulate beyond the basics. So, with every new addition to a network, it becomes a little bit more valuable. This continues to happen until the network reaches a tipping point; a point at which a network suddenly becomes a lot more valuable. After this point, the network will generally race past all its rivals and become a de facto standard in its realm. Whether it is a question of which social network website to frequent or which type of keyboard to use as a standard (the more popular QWERTY style or the more efficient Dvorak style), or which type of cooling systems to use in the nuclear power plants (light water, heavy water or gas cooled) - the decision almost always rests on the network effect. To see the network effect in practice - let's use an example from the distant past - when automobiles were being first introduced. In their excellent book "Thinking Strategically" authors Avniash Dixit and Barry Nalebuff  quote the following example by Stanford economist Brian Arthur: In 1890 there were three ways to power automobiles - steam, gasoline, and electricity - and of these one was patently inferior to the other two: gasoline. ...[A turning point for gasoline was] an 1895 horseless carriage competition sponsored by the Chicago Times-Herald. This was won by a gasoline powered Duryea - one of the only two cars to finish out of six starters - and has been cited as the possible inspiration for R. E. Olds to patent in 1896 a gasoline power source, which he subsequently mass-produced in the "Curved-Dash Olds". Gasoline thus overcame its slow start. Steam continued viable as an automotive power source until 1914, when there was an outbreak of hoof-and-mouth disease in North America. This led to the withdrawal of horse troughs – which is where steam cars could fill with water. It took the Stanley brothers about three years to develop a condenser and boiler system that did not need to be filled every thirty or forty miles. But by then it was too late. The steam engine never recovered. The authors go on to state that while there is little doubt that today's gasoline technology is better than steam, that's not the right comparison. How good would steam have been if it had had the benefit of 75 years of research and development? While we may never know, some engineers believe that steam was the better bet. It is indeed a fascinating story of how the Network Effect helped a relatively inferior technology triumph. Interested readers can read a more detailed account in the publications quoted above. My purpose is to give enough details to keep the narrative tight and fast, and not send readers on wild goose chases, I encourage readers to follow up on this link if they need details. So, how can networks achieve what individuals cannot? Why are networks even more valuable than similar-sized companies and organizations? What distinguishes networks from teams? What is the secret source of networks? A listing in the business directory can help to boost your business' profile on the internet.