Building a diverse, productive network is a key enabler of success for any inside entrepreneur. We want to share a few observations we’ve made about effective networking that might feel a bit counter-intuitive.
- Successful entrepreneurs build extremely diverse networks of folks they can call on for advice, critique, support and connections. They are typically motivated by wanting to learn more about an adjacent industry, a new business model, a different culture (organizational, geographic or demographic), or by making a personal connection. They see each connection as unique — the combinations of life and career experience, expertise, background and perspective seem to create and then feed an insatiable curiosity. Their networks contain folks from around the world, and across multiple disciplines and career backgrounds.
- Successful entrepreneurs spend less time building a network that is specific to their current venture, and more time meeting new people and building relationships, even if they don’t see an immediate connection. Often, they don’t need to build a new network for a venture, because they’ve pro-actively built relationships and connections that they can leverage as various needs come up.
- Successful entrepreneurs are generous with their connections. They willingly give advice, enthusiastically make connections, contribute ideas, humbly learn from others, and pro-actively share knowledge. They genuinely don’t expect anything in return, but rather get real joy and satisfaction from the giving. The result, without exception, is a strong ROI on each relationship they invest in.
Overall, successful entrepreneurs recognize networking as a means to help others and build relationships that have long term value as opposed to viewing it as only a transaction for a pre-determined purpose. Ultimately, they benefit from the exposure of different types of challenges, opportunities and learning and they meet scores of interesting people.
Photo licensed under Creative Commons 2.0 via Flickr user: Vasenka