Connecting and networking with other entrepreneurs can benefit you in several ways -- from new perspectives that spark business growth to new contacts and mentors to bounce ideas off.
Here are five ways to connect and network with fellow entrepreneurs.
1. Be active on Twitter.
There are several social networks that can be used to successfully network and connect with entrepreneurs -- but Twitter is full of real-time action. Twitter feeds constantly pump out breaking news and information across every industry.
Even the busiest entrepreneurs are active on Twitter daily, making it possible for you to grab the attention of the most out-of-reach individual you can imagine. If you identify someone you would like to connect with, take a quick glance at their replies and if they reply to tweets directed at them, then reach out.
Personally, I love Twitter because it forces people to be direct and to the point. With a 140-character limit it eliminates messages full of fluff. Connect with me on Twitter by following me -- I’m always up for some social networking.
2. Join an entrepreneurial organization.
Joining an entrepreneurial organization is a great way to meet and network with other like-minded individuals. There are several organizations that accommodate those just starting out (Business Collective), more established entrepreneurs (Founder Society) all the way to the most elite entrepreneurs in the world (YEC).
These organizations provide several benefits aside from just the networking and connections -- the exposure, advice and mentoring that can originate from these types of entrepreneurial organizations is priceless.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for connections.
Take a step back for a moment and think about all of the connections you already have. Every single one of your already-existing contacts has connections that could possibly be beneficial to you.
How can you take advantage of this? Simple -- just ask. Reach out to all of your personal connections and ask them if they know anyone that could possibly be a source of advice or help you in any way. Also, don’t forget that it’s a two-way street -- make sure to ask if they know anyone that you could possibly help as well.
4. Organize a local meet-up.
Local meet-ups are great but they usually don’t happen as often as one would like. This is because they can be quite time consuming to organize and run. You know what they say -- if you want something done right, do it yourself.
Take the initiative and organize a local event, starting with your friends and close contacts. Even something as simple as, “Hey, let’s get together on the first Tuesday of every month -- 9 p.m. at Burger & Beer Joint” can grow into a larger meet-up when your friends tell their contacts, who then tell their contacts.
The next thing you know you have a successful monthly meet-up full of networking and connecting. You will also gain a networking advantage because you took the time to orchestrate the event -- attendees will want to meet the person behind the successful meet-up.
5. Join a co-working space.
It’s good to get away from your regular workspace from time to time. Working in different environments can help spark creativity and it breaks up the typical mundane day.
Many entrepreneurs immediately think of Starbucks when it comes time to get work done away from the office -- but how much networking really goes on there? Sure, there can be some friendly conversation found there -- but if you really want to network and make connections, join a local co-working space.
There are so many affordable options -- many entrepreneurs could easily cover the cost with their regular monthly Starbucks tab. Everyone is there to work -- but there are plenty of opportunities to make small talk and introduce yourself, as well as learn about the other members there. The entrepreneurial population will always be much larger at a co-working space than at a local Starbucks -- and most spaces provide free coffee, so don’t worry, you can still get your caffeine fix.
I’m a big fan of networking and bouncing ideas off other entrepreneurs -- so much in fact that is caused me to create an online community that will be available 24/7 for entrepreneurs to network with each other and discuss all aspects of business. You can visit EBOC and enter your email address if you would like to be added to the pre-launch list -- it goes live on July 15.
Share you own networking and connection tips in the comments section below.