One of the biggest problems for fresh entrepreneurs is making those important connections that can both promote their new company and their individual status within a business community. How can you grow your network when you don't have one with which to start? In addition, amidst all of the efforts needed to launch a company - from product acquisition and hiring to hiring and marketing - how does a new entrepreneur extend his or her network and contacts when there is so much else to do?
Involvement is the Key
The answer is getting involved with groups. An entrepreneur who doesn't get involved with groups and organizations is like a person trying to push a boulder uphill. Or, much like a wallflower at a dance who sits in the corner watching everyone else have fun, he or she is simply listening to the music, but not joining the fun.
With your pardon for the metaphorical overload, the point is that getting involved can make running your business easier. You not only can find more customers, but your network can:
Where to Get Involved
Where does an entrepreneur find ways to get involved? It can start right at your local community and extend to national or even international groups. Here are a few of the main types of groups that can help entrepreneurs extend their contacts and network.
Industry Groups and Organizations
Of course, you want to start with groups and organizations within your industry. Own a new catering company? Find a national food service industry group. Operate a retail hardware store? Join a construction organization
These types of organizations may cost fees or dues, but you'll have access to lists of contacts, online databases, and usually a newsletter or magazine with helpful trade articles.
Entrepreneur and Investment Clubs
Look up your local investment and entrepreneur clubs. These clubs meet regularly, perhaps weekly or monthly, and usually coordinate meetings with important speakers. Bring lots of business cards to these events. You'll be distributing your name and collecting a lot of contacts with these clubs.
Check out your local service and charitable organizations. Groups like the Kiwanis International, Lions Club, Rotary, or even the Freemasons all do service for the community and can help you get exposure to people and for your business.
You might get involved with fundraising for charities like the United Way, local hospital charities, and children's charities. Not only would you be helping others, but others see how committed you are to the cause.
Local Economic Development
Find out about your local economic organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce or city economic development group. These types of groups are specifically designed to promote business, and they remain a good way to get your small business in their sights with your involvement.
Don't forget educational groups that will enrich your knowledge, as well as extend your network. The Toastmasters International is a good example. Find a local Toastmasters club and join. This outstanding group gets you involved with other leaders, but it also helps you become a better leader, speaker and all-around schmoozer.
Place of Worship Involvement
It's really not so surprising to learn that you can meet people who in some way will help your business through your local church, synagogue, mosque, etc. Your place of worship is filled not just with weekly worshipers, but with important business contacts and influential leaders in your community and neighborhood.
Get involved in your place of worship, which provides spiritual rewards, as well as other potential benefits. You may discover a Fortune 500 executive who can get you a number for a better distributor or a chairman of the board who can recommend you to a national marketing firm.
There are so many ways to find a way to get involved. Your exposure to groups leads you to meet important contacts, promotes your business, and improves your status as an expert and leader at what you do.