Having just returned from a Global Entrepreneurship Week event, I’m abuzz with all that I heard. The event was called “eKC Explained” and was an exposé of why my hometown, Kansas City, has become such a hub for entrepreneurship over the last few years. It was held at the historic Union Station in a huge auditorium and featured a panel of 20 experts in the entrepreneurial ecosystem – everyone from business owners, serial entrepreneurs, community builders, program managers, arts enthusiasts and the like.
There were several important themes mentioned – technology, innovation, collaboration. Wouldn’t you know it? The most common theme: NETWORKING! No surprise, of course, but gratifying nonetheless. To a person, they all talked about the importance of connections, community and relationships.
Below is a sampling of some of the most relevant comments related to networking:
“Network with purpose. Tell others what you need and they will deliver.” — Kelly Pruneau, Network Manager, Women’s Capital Connection
“What can large companies do for entrepreneurs? Open up their Rolodex. It’s free for the corporation and highly valuable to budding entrepreneurs.” — Kevin McGinnis, Vice President – Development & Operations – Pinsight Media, Sprint
“When the glamour and excitement of Global Entrepreneurship Week wears off and entrepreneurs return to building their businesses, life won’t be quite as glamorous. Those entrepreneurs need a support system, they need the community to rally around them to help achieve success.” — Joni Cobb, President and CEO, PIPELINE
“This is a place for serendipitous collisions.” [i.e., population density that lends itself to entrepreneurs “colliding” with potential investors, collaborators, advisers, customers, etc.] — Alexa Nguyen, Co-Founder, Handprint
“Just ask. Sure, you need to do your homework and come in prepared, but there is not one person in this community who is unwilling to sit down with you for a cup of coffee to see how they can help.” — Davyeon Ross, Serial Entrepreneur, Co-Founder, ShotTracker
So, how are things looking in your community? Whether you are an aspiring or established entrepreneur, an intra-preneur for a larger company, an investor, a customer or a friend of any of those other categories, be sure to support your community’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Not sure how to get involved? Just ask.