Do I have a network that will help me launch a business?

Take the plunge 11/12

You’ll often hear successful entrepreneurs stress the fact that they would not be successful if it wasn’t for all the people that have helped them along the way. But you didn’t think they ran into these people by chance – did you?

Networking is an essential part of business regardless of your industry, but it’s especially important for entrepreneurs because when you are starting out, you’ll need all the help and advice you can get.

When you think of a network, think of the different people that can help you operate your business. Do you have a lawyer to review your contracts? Do you have an accountant who can keep track of your finances and expenses? Do you have someone to help you set a budget? Or organize your inventory? Do you have someone who could connect you with potential suppliers or maybe help you avoid some pitfalls? For all the skill sets you don’t possess you will have to reach out to someone who can help. Here are a few tips on evaluating and expanding your network:

  1. Think of the expertise of the people already in your life.
  2. Connect with like-minded entrepreneurs
  3. Be generous. Be generous. Be generous.
  4. Expand your network
  5. Ask yourself if you’ve got what it takes

Think of the expertise of the people already in your life.

The first step to building a network is to think of the expertise of the people already in your life. Who are your friends? Who do you know that can be valuable? Do you have friends that are entrepreneurs? Do your friends know anyone who might be able to support you?

Odds are, if you’re new to entrepreneurship, you don’t yet have the network in place to support you during the start-up phase. But don’t get discouraged, this is your opportunity to build a network that will serve you for the rest of your working days. A mentor is a useful partner to have in order to help get you started in the right direction.

Connect with like-minded entrepreneurs

The next step would then be to connect with like-minded entrepreneurs and get tips and advice from them. They are and have lived what you have and can guide in the right direction. But, don’t stop there, find local organizations such as chamber of commerce, meetups, industry associations that offer events or workshops. Maybe you can bring a small business coach onboard that can chat with you and point you in the right direction, including maybe help make some introductions. Being active on social media in areas related to your business will also benefit your business at this stage.

Be generous. Be generous. Be generous.

A network is a group of people that you need to help. A network is not a group of people who are there at your beck and call but rather individuals you have helped, supported and been generous to. It is only when we are willing to give readily and without expectation that we will reap the rewards of a network. Don’t be “the asker”, “the needer” or, “the taker” of your group because if you are, you will realize how quickly a circle can shrink.

This does not mean that on occasion, we cannot reach out to our network and see if they can help – not at all. It is important to let the people who surround us know that we are looking for support. The balance should always be tipped to the side of giving and being generous.

Expand your network

You can then expand your network and connect with people who can help make introductions that can often lead to things such as good suppliers and clients. All this falls on a support system you need to establish or build. Once you track down those people that can assist you, you are then able to navigate through your business and better acquire customers, advice and support because you know where the right people are.

Ask yourself if you’ve got what it takes

Networking is a game of persistence and confidence. If every time you think about networking you get a knot in your stomach, ask yourself why and really analyze your answer to understand why you are uncertain and where the tension comes from in order for you to overcome it. One of the best ways to overcome this is to ask the people you know to make introductions to new individuals – you are no longer walking up to strangers, but rather having a conversation with a potential new friend.

Remember that building a network occurs over time and does not have to be rushed. Building a network does not mean that you have to meet each and every person who is at a networking event. It means that you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone, finding new people and new ways to help those who surround you.

Continue to reaffirm to yourself in every stage that you chose this lifestyle and that networking is a big part of that lifestyle. Always remember that your network is your net worth.

Top tips:

  • Find the people already in your life
  • Connect with like-minded entrepreneurs
  • Educate yourself!
  • Learn how you can be useful to other entrepreneurs
  • Continually expand your network

Resources:

For more articles on choosing the entrepreneur lifestyle, suggestions, tools or for inquiries on our trainings, head over to our website www.EntrepreneurLifestyle.ca or follow-us on social media.

Understand the mindset. Choose the culture. Live the lifestyle.

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Keith | Ottawa, ON