Fifteen million of the 582 million entrepreneurs worldwide operate in the United States and are full-time hustlers. Despite the negative economic impacts of the pandemic, the climate for entrepreneurship in America remains ideal for everyone intending to venture into business making. However, becoming an entrepreneur is never easy, and things get even more challenging when you are a newbie.
One of the biggest disadvantages of being a new entrepreneur is lacking reliable, relevant, and supportive connections. Considering the business industry is a dog-eat-dog world, you will never come out of it unscathed alone. Besides drafting a good business plan and saving a hefty capital, prioritize building an entrepreneur network.
Why newbies should build an entrepreneur network
Starting a business for the first time is downright overwhelming. Notably, the pressure of simultaneously managing many things makes you vulnerable, especially to mental health issues. A University of San Francisco study revealed that entrepreneurs have a higher chance of experiencing mental health problems than non-business owners.
Having no relative experience and practical knowledge in the field, building a support network helps you navigate the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. It is one of the reasons why some entrepreneurs network extensively, even at the expense of a temporary profit loss.
Entrepreneur networking gives you access to valuable resources and expertise. The connections you build will open collaboration opportunities with industry professionals leading to opportunities and relationships helpful for the growth and sustenance of your business.
In addition, your professional network can also act as a source of emotional support and encouragement. Starting a business can be stressful and lonely, but your ties with trustworthy individuals can help you get through the most challenging times.
Creating a support network sets new entrepreneurs up for long-term success. Therefore, it is best for all newbie business owners to hone strong networking skills as soon as possible. After all, being a rookie is not an excuse for missing a chance at building business relations with some of the industry’s finest.
How to build a support system as a new entrepreneur
Entrepreneur networking takes a lot of time, effort, and resources. Although the benefits you will reap will be worth all the sacrifices, getting there could be tedious. Things can be stressful but try to take one step at a time.
Here is a greenhorns’ guide to creating an entrepreneurial support network:
Attend events and conferences
Attending events and conferences as a new entrepreneur is an invaluable way to access valuable resources and expertise. These events often feature industry leaders as speakers and panelists who can provide valuable insights. Besides connections, you may also gain new perspectives that can inspire your business endeavors.
Since you are in a group of like-minded individuals, connecting with potential business partners or investors will be easier. Prepare to small talk with everyone and create a good impression to attract their interest. And even if you do not find people to connect with while the event or conference is ongoing, your presence serves as an advertisement for others who may want to reach out to you in the future.
Join industry groups and associations
Industry groups and associations open the gates for networking opportunities. Many groups and associations host regular meetings and events where you can connect with other entrepreneurs and learn from their experiences. In addition, these organizations may lead you to potential business opportunities and partnerships.
Many industry groups and associations also offer professional development opportunities, such as training programs and conferences, which help new entrepreneurs stay relevant and competitive.
Also, members of said industry groups and associations can vouch for new entrepreneurs, helping them build credibility for their products and services. Receiving good word from other business owners can help you leave a positive mark in the market.
Utilize online resources
Some of the best free online resources for entrepreneur networking are the online communities on social media. These platforms enable new entrepreneurs to connect with veterans and other stakeholders. LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are crawling with support groups and forums.
Online communities strongly focus on collaboration and the free flow of information for all entrepreneurs. Although joining an online community does not force you to be active, participating in community activities will help expand your connections and improve your networking skills.
You can also register for online conferences if you want real-time interaction in a more formal setting. These virtual events often have interactive features, such as live Q&A sessions and discussion groups, which can help entrepreneurs build relationships with other attendees.
Seek out a mentor or advisor
Entrepreneurs network themselves and their businesses differently, which can be confusing to analyze for untrained eyes. Since everybody has unique styles and priorities, it may be difficult for newbies to learn simply by observing. If you need guidance on everything happening around you, seek mentorship, if you need guidance in technical aspects of your project, find a technical co-founder.
Mentors are often older and wiser business experts who can help new entrepreneurs grow personally and professionally. After years of successful and unsuccessful networking, they can share tips on what works best for them. With their wisdom on industry standards and trends, they can pinpoint which strategies are ideal for specific entrepreneurs.
Network through your personal connections
Talk to friends, family, and colleagues about your business. After all, they may be your first customers and supporters. Handling the needs and demands of the people you know is good practice in preparation for delivering products and rendering services to strangers.
You may also ask for their help connecting with other industry entrepreneurs. It can be surprising how the connections of people you already know can lead you to significant personalities that can grow your business.
It is also ideal to start your entrepreneurial network with people you already know. They will likely support your business endeavors. Even if they cannot offer financial or operational support, their supportive actions, like saying words of affirmation or sharing your business page, will do wonders for your mental health.
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No entrepreneur is an island
Entrepreneur networking is essential, especially for greenhorns. It is an indispensable activity that gives you access to resources and personalities that help you start, manage, and succeed in your business. Even if you are doubtful that others might not respond or that nobody is willing to lend a hand, keep trying.
Connecting with others in the entrepreneurial world is an extreme challenge that requires sacrifices and dedication. When you feel hopeless because your linkages are not expanding, know that all entrepreneurs network differently. Continue to grow personally and professionally until you find the best strategy leading you to the right partners, markets, and clients.