My company, Kauffman FastTrac, was originally a philanthropic program of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation – the foundation of entrepreneurship. We still office out of the Foundation and are closely associated with this wonderful organization that seeks to foster “a society of economically independent individuals who are engaged citizens, contributing to the improvement of their communities.” In service of this vision, the Foundation focuses its grant making and operations on two areas—education and entrepreneurship—which its founder, Ewing Kauffman, saw as two ends of a continuum.
One way the Foundation shares its vision with the masses is through its award-winning “Kauffman Sketchbook” video series. Last year, the Kauffman Foundation created a cool Sketchbook for Kauffman FastTrac to share an overview of what the organization does – to train entrepreneurs to start and grow companies. It has been a great way for us to quickly explain to others what we do in a fun and impactful way.
Well, just last week, the Kauffman Foundation unfurled its latest Sketchbook, “Open to Networking,” featuring – I am very proud to say – the Coffee Lunch Coffee approach! In the video, I humbly serve as narrator sharing my actionable philosophy for making professional and personal connections.
In the three-minute animated Sketchbook, viewers learn that it’s critically important for entrepreneurs to surround themselves with mentors, advisers, investors, customers, friends and family because such individuals can prop them up, cheer them on, do a few reality checks that help an entrepreneur maintain focus on achieving their visions. Though the piece is targeted to entrepreneurs, you won’t be surprised to learn that I believe networking is relevant for any professional.
As discussed in the clip, given that networking allows us to connect with others, establish community and deepen our sense of belonging, I believe that you should prepare for this activity by compiling four lists:
- People you already know and want to reconnect with;
- People you would like to get to know;
- Companies and organizations you would like to get to know; and
- Your personal values, ethics and principles.
Once the lists are prepared, it’s time to make the phone calls, send the emails and schedule the meetings upon which networks begin to build.
Since the Kauffman Sketchbook series launched in September 2011, the videos featuring the insights of influential thought leaders in the areas of education and entrepreneurship have drawn more than 230,000 viewers to YouTube and kauffman.org. The Sketchbooks, which won a top award from the Greater Kansas City Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, have been widely shared on a variety of websites, blogs and social media outlets, as well as at numerous events and conferences. They were developed by an extremely talented organization out of Chicago, 321 Fast Draw.
Please check out “Open to Networking” and all of the other wonderful Sketchbook videos. Let me know what you think!