Entrepreneurial Networking

Today marks the start of 15 years of Global Entrepreneurship Week (“GEW”).  The brainchild of my own alma mater, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, GEW began in 2008 with an emphasis on inspiring young people to make their mark and has quickly grown to become a comprehensive effort that engages entrepreneurs, investors, policymakers, researchers, support organizations and others collaborating to advance economic growth and innovation in 200 countries around the world.

GEW is something for everyone to celebrate – not only those individuals who are currently or aspire to be entrepreneurs and business owners, but all of us.  We can all choose to be part of an entrepreneurial or innovative ecosystem and to build an entrepreneurial network to help us address challenges we face in business and in life.

One way to ensure an entrepreneurial network is to wake up each day prepared to connect with one or two people. Make it part of your daily rituals, part of your list of action items for the day. Essentially, be creative, go forward eager to tackle even the most difficult of situations, and don’t go it alone – no person or company has ever succeeded without the backing of a solid support network. More specifically, surround yourself with:

  • Partners. Having people with whom to share ideas can be very beneficial when gathering honest feedback about your business or topic of interest.
  • Peers. Whatever your situation, others have likely walked in your shoes. They are great sources for best practices and lessons learned.
  • Mentors. Seasoned professionals, coaches, and other experts are always learning from their businesses, clients, and experiences. Using their advice can pay off in the long run.
  • Advisers. These consultants have expertise across multiple functions – marketing, finance, sales, governance, HR, IT and more. Their advice will guide you to wise decisions.
  • Investors. As necessary, ensuring there are potential investors who may fund your business is a critically important step when pursuing your ideas.
  • Friends. Trusted, straightforward friends can provide reasonable, honest advice during decision-making and problem-solving periods.
  • Customers. The best way to get feedback is by asking the end user. Always ask your clients what they think, what your services should include, how you should market to them, etc.

If chosen wisely, all of these people will believe in you, be there to cheer you on through thick and thin, and tell you the unadorned truth in hopes that it will help you achieve greater success.  Be sure to tap all that social media has to offer in terms of virtual connections. Network on Linkedin, Twitter, even Facebook. A vibrant, free system of resources is literally at your fingertips.

Make time this week to be one of 10 million participants of the 40,000+ activities taking place through 20,000 partners around the world in celebration of GEW.  While you’re there, bring others into your entrepreneurial network.

Happy Global Entrepreneurship Week!  Happy Networking!

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