Many of us entrepreneurs tend to feel that we don’t need to network, don’t have time to network or simply don’t like networking. And while you might not think you have time for it or simply don’t like it, the reality is all entrepreneurs need to network. We need to build our social capital for a variety of reasons. As the old saying goes, “it’s all about who you know”.
Benefits of networking
Networking can bring countless benefits to entrepreneurs that can be game changers for their businesses.
- Access to people with different information, perspectives and connections
- Connections to people with skills you need to fill gaps in your team
- Opportunity to brainstorm with people who will challenge you and give you new ideas
- Introductions to employees, customers, funders, professionals and more
The deeper and broader your network is the more opportunities you gain access to. Not only that, networking helps you create a support system that is priceless to the entrepreneur lifestyle.
How to build your network
Networking isn’t just about going to events and passing out business cards. Honestly every interaction you have in your day-to-day life is a networking opportunity. You don’t need to talk about your business in every conversation, but you do need to show up in your daily life with a desire to connect with others. You never know if that random conversation at the grocery store with the cashier may turn into their spouse being your target customer.
Here’s 3 tips on building your network from Inc.com.
Connect with other founders
Founders understand founders. Find informal ways to simply connect with other founders. Organize casual gatherings, like coffee or dinner, to meet and connect with your fellow entrepreneurs.
Being the connector will make you a sought after person in the community and support you in building your network.
Speak at events
While not all of us are fans of public speaking, I encourage you to challenge yourself to take opportunities to share your entrepreneurial story. Doing so gives you exposure, creates connections and helps you build confidence.
Don’t like all eyes on you at speaking events, try speaking on a panel.
Networking is a two-way street. The more people you help, the more willing others will be to help you when you need it.
So take calls from new entrepreneurs, give that fellow founder a few minutes of your time to help proof their blog or listen to their presentation and reply to emails and calls from other professionals in a timely manner.
All of this adds up to being known as someone willing to add value to the entrepreneurial ecosystem. So when you’re in need, those in your network will be ready and willing to pay it forward.
I know it’s easy to get stuck on the lonely island of entrepreneurship and tell yourself you don’t have time to get out there and make connections. But I’m here to tell you, you don’t have time NOT to!
So I challenge you this week to make one connection. Attend a networking event, call or email a fellow founder, grab coffee with some you’ve met in the past but haven’t sat down with one on one. Or better yet organize a founder’s meetup yourself – more on this next week!
In the meantime, I hope to see you at our monthly events, so we can all build our network and support each other.