In last week’s blog, Jess talked about how entrepreneurs can’t afford to NOT network if they want to succeed. The key takeaway was the importance of becoming the one to connect people and start networking groups. As the resident connector at The Biz Foundry, I thought I’d share my story of bringing people together to become a resource in the entrepreneur ecosystem of the Upper Cumberland and how you can do the same.
The Birth of Powered by Her
A few years ago, I saw a need in our community for a women’s networking group. We have tons of female founders in our region, but no dedicated events to bring them all together for support, connection and encouragement.
So, to meet that need I started the Powered By Her community (PBH). With our monthly one-hour “lunch and learns” local women business owners now have a group of like-minded people to connect with and learn from. With free lunch, an informal monthly gathering and welcoming vibe I was able to provide networking to others, while building my reputation as a connector and resource. In fact, the PBH lunches are our best attended events every month.
The Founders Friday Experiment
Starting a group and your journey to be a connector sometimes doesn’t go as smoothly as it did for me with PBH. Last year, Jess started Founders Friday monthly meetings at The Biz Foundry in an effort to bring together local entrepreneurs in a casual BYOL (bring your own lunch) environment to meet, talk through business challenges, etc. She gave it a good ol’ college try for 4 months and unfortunately it never gained traction so we put it on pause.
While Founders Friday wasn’t a hit, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth trying. In fact, we used it as a learning experience to explore why it didn’t work so we could make adjustments to relaunch later. Maybe we just need to add free lunch LOL!
How to be a Connector
Becoming a connector takes time, patience and commitment, but I promise it’s worth the effort. Being a connector in your industry or community makes you sought after by fellow business owners, customers, etc. When people see that you are willing to help make their lives or businesses better you build a positive reputation, boost your KLT factor (know, like, trust) and become someone people pay attention to. All of this leads to boosting your business!
Here are 3 tips to becoming a connector:
Don’t overplan or overthink it
Starting a networking group/event doesn’t need to be a huge planned out thing. If you have an idea to start a group, find a couple people who may be interested and just do it. It’s important to simply get started, get feedback and to let go of it having to be perfect. You’d be surprised how many people just want an opportunity to connect with others that get them.
Start something valuable for you
Remember networking and connecting is a two-way street. Not only are you initiating things to build a community, but you also need to benefit. So be sure that you are starting something that’s valuable to you and your business.
For example, I have a Physical Therapist friend who specializes in knee rehabilitation and I’ve suggested she start an online group to support patients struggling with knee issues. Not only does this group provide support to the community of people suffering from knee pain, but it also creates a group of potential customers for her. It’s a win-win.
Consistency is key. This is true in business and all things in life. While your initial attempts at starting networking gatherings might not pan out well, don’t just scrap the whole idea. Simply pivot and make adjustments, but stay the course. You’ll be able to grow a group with consistent effort.
Meeting a need
We know that there is a need for all different kinds of networking. Day, night, social, educational, industry specific, etc. The possibilities are endless. And as much as The BIz Foundry would love to offer every type of networking event needed, we simply can’t do it alone. So, if you’re interested in trying to build your own group/event, please contact me and let’s see if we can collaborate to help support your efforts.