As an entrepreneur, you probably understand the importance of having a well-established and connected network. What you might be unsure of is how to go about building a network from scratch.
Fortunately, it is not that difficult to build up an effective network—for example, consider the following ideas:
Learn from the Experts
A great way to get started on building a network is to read words of wisdom from experts in the field. For example, Joshua Cooper Ramo is a well-known thought leader with interesting views on the interconnectedness of the world — whether it’s with one single person such as President Trump or the international relations of entire countries. In his book “The Seventh Sense: Power, Fortune and Survival in the Age of Networks,” Ramo explores what he calls the the disruptive force of networks in trade, politics, finance, the internet and more. Likewise consider the work of other networking thought leaders such as Dale Carnegie and Keith Ferrazzi; Forbes recently compiled an article of books about networking — start there.
Join a Local College Alumni Club
When it comes to building a network, joining or starting a college alumni club is a great place to start. Most alumni clubs host a combination of professional and social events, and some universities offer smaller alumni groups based on specific interests. Contact the alumni office at your alma mater and see if there is a group in your area; if there is not, you might consider starting one.
Relive the Job Hunt
Many people become really great at networking when they are job seeking. Even if you are happy as an entrepreneur and have no plans to look for another position, put on your job seeking hat on a regular basis and take part in common job searching tasks. For example, take part in professional workshops and job fairs, reach out to your connections on LinkedIn to learn more about them and their work, and attend trade shows and local networking conferences. These tricks can help you connect with a huge number of people and get your network off the ground very quickly.
Break Out of Your Shell
If you are an introvert, establishing a network might feel especially challenging. But don’t let that stop you. According to inc.com, some of the most successful people of our time — including Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Steven Spielberg — are introverts. For many people, reaching out to others can be difficult, even if you understand that it is an important aspect of creative a network. Thanks to the era of social media, it is easier than ever to make valuable connections without ever having to go to an event in person. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter are all great places to post updates about your business, reach out to others and make connections. You can also watch for opportunities to network in situations that you are comfortable with—for instance, if you enjoy helping others and there is a small business volunteering event coming up in your town, this could be a great way to get out of your comfort zone a bit while meeting like-minded business people and creating your network.
Nurture Your Network and Help it Grow
As your network builds, it is important to not set it aside and use it only when you need it. To truly thrive, a business network needs to be tended to on a regular basis. By learning more about networking experts and following their examples, adopting a job hunt mindset, and reaching out to others as much as you can, your business network will be growing and thriving in no time.
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Founder Dinis Guarda
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