How to Network Successfully as an Entrepreneur
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Entrepreneurial success depends on factors such as your know-how and creativity, commitment to your business, willingness to learn, and ability to overcome adversity. We also shared in ‘4 Tips for Creating a Successful Career as an Entrepreneur’ how your success can boil down to who you know, as making connections or building your professional network, is also critical to any career progression. In fact, serial entrepreneur Sam Bahreini considers professional networking the missing piece to entrepreneurial success. That’s because it connects you with knowledgeable and resourceful people, while opening up opportunities for yourself, your staff, and your business. With that in mind, below are some tips on how you can network as an entrepreneur.
Be the first to lend a hand. Being a good Samaritan will help you build your professional network. But for you to do this, you’ll need to drop the notion that business connections are mere gateways to professional gain. Instead, adopt a mindset of adding value to your professional relationships. Doing that means lending a helping hand, even if that means receiving nothing in return. Contribute to the growth of someone’s business, send referrals where necessary, or share an informative article. Remember: Even the simplest acts of helping can help you establish rapport with others. At some point, those you’ve helped will return the favor someday.
Go to events One way to meet fellow entrepreneurs is to attend professional events. Entrepreneur Joe Procopio shares in ‘This is How Startups Should Network’ that entrepreneurs must go to either events organized by local startup organizations or events and conferences related to their industry or market. This way, you’ll be rubbing elbows with other entrepreneurs, investors, advisors, and local executives — exactly the people you need in your network. Attend as many professional events as you can in order to increase your network. Once there, maximize your time, meet everyone, be nice, and acquire as many contacts as possible.
Work in a coworking space Working in coworking spaces is another effective way to meet likeminded individuals. A survey by Smallbiz shows that 82% of respondents have expanded their professional network since joining a coworking office space, and it may just be your own ticket to a bigger professional network. All you need to do is take advantage of the services on offer at most spaces. The coworking spaces operated by Industrious feature regular event programming that provide a gateway to not only meeting local and international businesses but also fellow entrepreneurs. Many coworking spaces also offer virtual community setups to keep their members connected. If you are serious about networking you need to go to where tomorrow’s entrepreneurs are operating and that means coworking spaces.
Get some help There are various organizations that offer entrepreneurs a range of resources, including training and networking. Startup owners can start with the Small Business Administration, which assists entrepreneurs in networking via community events such as round-table discussions and informal lunches. Business owners can also reach out to small business groups, like the non-profit Entrepreneurs’ Organization, The National Federation of Independent Business, and the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs. Most states, including Arizona, have similar groups, too, so you might want to check out Entrepreneurs of Arizona, Local First Arizona, and AZ Founders Guild.
We hope the above tips have provided useful. Whether you are starting out as an entrepreneur or are a veteran of many years, the need to network never stops. There are always more places you can discover to find new contacts.