Startup Your Connections

It’s Global Entrepreneurship Week – a worldwide celebration of the entrepreneurial spirit in us all powered by the Kauffman Foundation.  About 25 million people will attend 115,000 activities in more than 130 countries… talk about a great networking opportunity!

With that in mind, please join me in celebrating entrepreneurial networking by Starting Up Your Connections!  Here’s my Top 10 list for success in connecting with others, establishing community and deepening your sense of belonging:

  1. Set a Goal.  When I first started networking intentionally, my goal was to connect or reconnect with at least three people every day.  Whatever your goal – start with one, start with 10 – set it and stick to it.  No matter how busy we are, it only takes a few minutes each day to make good on our promise to ourselves to spend regular, dedicated time connecting with others.
  2. People You Know.  Tell them what you are up to.  This group already knows and cares about you.  In addition to being your most ardent fans, supporters and customers, they may also be your best source of ideas and referrals.
  3. People and Companies You’d Like to Know.  Who is your ideal customer?  Who are the trailblazers who have been there before from whom you can learn?  Go meet them.  Ask the people from Tip #2:  People You Know, to make recommendations and introductions so you can meet more people you’d like to know.
  4. Plan to Iterate.  In entrepreneurship, there is a discipline called the Lean Startup method, enumerated by Eric Ries in his book of the same name; it is an approach for developing businesses and products in an iterative manner.  Building a relationship base is no different.  Your ability to connect with others in a meaningful way will become cyclical; you will test your hypotheses; you will validate your learning and move on to build important relationships.  Here’s my Networking take on Lean methodology:  Plan… test… measure… learn… adapt… repeat.
  5. Show Up.  Networking events… what are you there for?  You are there to make meaningful connections.  Be there.  Be present.
  6. Be Consistent.  Show up again and again and again…
  7. Share and Get.  Before you go to any networking event – whether a 1:1 or a reception filled with people, say to yourself, “this is something I would like to share… this is something I would like to take away…”  It could be the name of a great new store or restaurant, a supplier recommendation, a suggestion for a great book.  Effective networking incorporates both give and take.  It doesn’t have to cost a thing, but its value is often priceless.
  8. Follow Up.  If you say you’re going to do something, do it.  If you make a meaningful connection, reach out to that individual to let them know how much it meant to you to meet them.  Schedule a time to visit again.  Send some information about your new company.  Share information that might be helpful to them.  Follow Up
  9. Clearly Articulate the Problem You are Solving.  People often want to know what is in it for them.  Be ready to clearly state how your new product or service will make their life easier… how YOU can be of service.
  10. Reach Out. Like starting up a business, the most difficult part about networking is getting out there and doing it!  Commit to being the one to reach out first.  Others will receive you.  They, too, want to make connections.  What’s stopping you?

Wherever you are in the world, whether you see yourself as an entrepreneur or an intra-preneur, be sure to get involved with one of the many thousands of Global Entrepreneurship Week events going on in your community and around the globe!

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