POST WRITTEN BY: Peter Tourian
Nobody builds a business alone.
You might often feel alone, toiling late nights and weekends. You may be doing a lot of solo work as a business owner, especially early on, but if you’re smart, you aren’t truly alone. You understand the power of relationships and communication. You’re constantly searching for investors, future employees, possible vendors, suppliers, etc. You’re searching for inspiration, education and advice. In short, you’re networking.
If you’re smart, you’ll continue networking and creating new relationships even after you’ve built a successful business. Smart people can always teach you something and it’s imperative to actively engage in conversations that can make you and your business better. Especially when your business is talking to you and you’re approaching a critical pivot point.
So, if you are thinking of increasing your networking but need a gentle push, let me offer a few reasons you should get yourself out there.
As noted, it’s lonely out there, but if you can find a networking group of peers, it becomes a lot less lonely. There are plenty of business groups out there that you might want to consider. In 2012, I became a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), a group of 24,000 young CEOs around the world. I can’t say enough about the YPO, but there are other very reputable networking organizations such as Entrepreneurs’ Organization and Business Networking International. You could join your local chamber of commerce or see if your college alumni association has a business networking group worth joining. If you join at least one networking group, get to know people, go to meetings and get involved, you’ll make friends who have the same concerns and hopes that you do. You may think, “I don’t need friends. I’m fine.” Trust me — this sort of rapport with like-minded peers is exactly what you need.
Employees And Resources
When you need support for your company, such as an executive, a new supplier or a better bank loan, chances are you don’t have to put out an ad in the classifieds or comparison shop at multiple banks. Someone in your networking group knows someone or something that can help your business.
If you’re just networking here and there, without belonging to an organization within which you’ve established strong relationships with like-minded folks, you may find that getting good advice comes slowly. After all, people don’t know you. They may be a little slower to open up.
You May Be Called On For Advice
You might think that offering business advice to others would be a waste of your precious time, but as is so often the case when you give back, you get more in return. Helping someone else work out a big problem can end up helping you solve your own issues later. I’ve mentored numerous people and then months or sometimes years later I’ll encounter an issue similar to the one they faced. Instead of being caught by surprise, I know what’s happening and can act swiftly and confidently.
That’s what is so wonderful about networking — the give and take — but mostly the give! It feels good to help people and it’s crazy how much you end up learning and receiving just by doing everything you can to assist others. In fact, it may seem improbable, but every time you’re asked to be the teacher, you end up learning just as much as the student.