Today was the official launch of the fourth annual Global Entrepreneurship Week. Literally, 10 million people will participate in 40,000 events in 123 countries. These millions of people around the world join a growing movement of entrepreneurially-minded individuals to generate new ideas and to seek better ways of doing things. It’s impressive to say the least.
To get things rolling in Kansas City, a kickoff event was held tonight at our beautiful Union Station hosted by the Kauffman Foundation, KCSourcelink and the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. The event included cocktails, appetizers, a few vendor booths, some speeches and “curbside consulting” where entrepreneurs could come to get advice from business experts and advisors. I was honored to serve as one such consultant.
I had the privilege to sit down for about 45 minutes each with two local entrepreneurs, Bruce and Jeff, each with a very different business concept, each equally as passionate about the work in which he is engaged. Though I was billed as the “consultant,” without a doubt, I took more insight from them than they from me. The best part is that both Bruce and Jeff proved to me, once again, what fabulous networkers entrepreneurs can be.
Here’s what I got from them:
- When an opportunity presents itself to engage with other professionals, take it! In nearly every instance, you will learn something new that can benefit your business now or in the future as a result of your networking interaction(s). When they learned about the Curbside Consulting event, both Bruce and Jeff voluntarily signed up and made the drive down to Union Station to share their business concepts with an advisor (me, in their cases) who might or might not prove helpful to them. They willingly took the risk.
- Have your two-minute elevator speech ready to go! While you are talking with consultants or other professionals in such a setting, be prepared to share a bit about the work that you are doing. Be prepared to ask others for help – to ask for names of contacts that they have who might be useful to you – to ask how you might be of help to them. The exchange can be extremely rich and will leave you much wealthier walking out than you were when you first arrived.
- Immerse yourself in the experience. See who’s around. Don’t be afraid to dive right in. Ask what others are working on. Engage them in conversation. Share your ideas, products, information. We will talk later in the month about networking events for which this point will also be important.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, my company is hosting a major event on Wednesday for women in entrepreneurship, the Kauffman FastTrac Global Women’s Summit. It is at (or nearly at) capacity for in-person attendees and we will have people from all over the world joining us via live webcast during the keynote addresses. Please come or tune in, if you are available. Whether you attend the FastTrac event or another event this week, please do yourself a favor and engage in some way in Global Entrepreneurship Week. Avail yourself of the opportunities. Think of all of the Coffee-Lunch-Coffee encounters you could have at just one event!
Throughout the week, I will share insights with you that I gain from my participation in Global Entrepreneurship Week that relate back to networking. As you gain insights of your own, I hope you will share them with me in return. Happy Global Entrepreneurship Week!