Abstract The network rather than the individual firm is becoming the focal point of economic development and business success. What should executives and managers do particularly well, or different, to thrive in the networked world? Based on the Discovery Event “The Networked Experience”, Beijing 18–23 May 2008, hosted by Tsinghua University (see www.sbniweb.org), we develop a number of propositions, or guidelines to understanding the network factor in today's competitive business arena. Building on the work of the Smart Business Network Initiative established in 2004 (Vervest, van Heck, Preiss, & Pau, 2005) we call for action to develop a unified theory of business networks.