Confessions of a Serial Networker: What I’ve Learned from Fellow Entrepreneurs
Early in my career I was lucky enough to be mentored by a wise business leader who shared with me a piece of advice that stuck with me throughout my entrepreneurial journey. He said whether you are a business owner, or building a career within a company, you are responsible for establishing your own “board of directors” that act as mentors. These people should encourage your development and help you rise up to be a better leader.
The most important part of this advice was hidden within the analogy of a garden. He explained that in order to get the most out of your harvest, you must take the time to prune and water your garden. In other words, to gain knowledge from others you must be willing to share your own.
Networking is a very big part of a small business person’s world. It can be quite a lonely place being at the top of your own business—especially if you are a solopreneur, or you work from a home office. Not only does networking help you build a sense of community, it’s vital to the success of your business. It allows you to build a client base and create alliances with other local business owners to build a pipeline for future business.
But the most valuable aspect of networking comes from sharing knowledge and growing that garden—it’s the circle of life in the small business world. Here are some of the most important lessons I have learned as a serial networker:
Share Your Success with Fellow Entrepreneurs: You don’t have to give away your secrets in order to help others find the same success you have. Helping others understand what they might be looking for on their entrepreneurial journey, or warning them of the pitfalls you have overcome, bolsters the small business community which, in turn, helps us all thrive.
Look for People Who are Where You Want to be: Make it a point to seek out people who have achieved things that are on your business plan bucket list. Talk to them about their path and some of the things you should be doing to be ready for that type of success.
Recognize that Networking Opportunities are Everywhere: You don’t have to attend an organized meetup to reap the benefits of networking. Get to know the person you see in line at the coffee shop every morning, strike up a conversation with the server at your favourite lunch spot—you can learn something from just about anybody.
Don’t Ask Obvious Questions: I’ve talked to retired business owners who have sold their businesses for millions. But instead of asking questions about their success, I took the time to ask them about managing life as a retired entrepreneur—what it’s like to hand off control and have nothing to do.
Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur in search of a community, or you’re looking for new opportunities to network, our team is here to help you connect with like-minded business owners. Not only do we organize monthly free small business networking meetups in Newmarket, we take time to share knowledge with our own clients through our performance coaching services. Give us a call to see how we can help: 289-466-5210.