Every entrepreneur needs a vast support network. The mentors, coaches, consultants, and industry leaders you meet can all provide needed support during and after a business launch.
However, with much of our communication occurring in digital spaces, it can be more difficult than ever for business owners and entrepreneurs to form real connections with other industry professionals. That’s why it’s even more vital now than it has ever been to create these robust support systems.
Build Your Support Network Online
There are many ways to connect with effective support, both online and in the real world. The key is networking.
While traditional networking is done face-to-face, it is also possible to have discussions with industry leaders, coaches, and fellow entrepreneurs online. Facebook groups, LinkedIn, DMs on social media, or comments in a Webinar are all places where you can connect with peers. Often, these conversations are taken offline in the form of a meeting or conference call, but the initial outreach and conversation can certainly begin online.
Online networking is an excellent resource for business owners in remote locations or for reaching out to far-flung thought leaders. Additionally, reaching out to hard-to-reach individuals through their online spaces may be the best way to connect. This is what makes tools like LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter such fantastic resources. You can conceivably get in touch through one of these channels and glean valuable insight from an individual who may otherwise be inaccessible.
Here are five tools to use as you consider networking online:
1. Leverage free tools like webinars and social media to create conversation.
You can utilize existing spaces where your peers and thought leaders already congregate to connect. Simply find ways to reach out through these spaces and start conversations with others.
2. Be genuine.
While online conversation can feel stilted, it’s essential to find ways to connect and be genuine. If you are speaking to another webinar attendee, discuss a tricky part of the webinar or share your notes. When emailing through LinkedIn, talk about why you wanted to connect with the person.
3. Share resources.
Have you found an amazing business coach? Do you always utilize a specific vendor? Did you take a fantastic class? Talk with your peers about your resources and share your knowledge.
4. Find ways to offer value.
It can be hard to reach out to business leaders and ask for mentorship without offering some value in return. Share your own needs with those you’d like help from, but also provide them with the support they might need in return.
5. Stick with spaces in which you are comfortable before branching out.
There are many, many channels available online. Try a few and stick with those you feel most comfortable with. Once you have mastered those channels and reached everyone you think you can, move on to a new space.
The online world can provide many resources to entrepreneurs, but it’s also often over saturated. So, if you can’t reach your business icons, don’t worry. Reach out to those you feel can offer value at your existing level and keep reaching out to the thought leaders you admire as your own business grows.
Network With Local Businesses
Local businesses, consultants, and peers can help you immensely as you start or expand your company. The best place to meet these individuals is a networking group.
There are many, many different networking groups across the nation and the world. Probably the simplest to try first is your local chamber of commerce. Here are additional ways to discover great networking groups:
- Ask successful business owners where they go to network.
- Look at Meetup.com.
- Search for specialized networking groups like women in tech, young entrepreneurs, local business networking groups, etc.
- Attend local events.
- Join groups that focus on things in which you are interested.
Connecting with local companies, coaches, mentors, and more can help you grow your business with the support and fellowship you need.
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