Build Your Professional Network in 6 Steps

Growing a business, after all, isn't a one-woman show.

learn more about Sumi Krishnan

By Sumi Krishnan


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Ever feel like you're not achieving your professional goals as quickly as you'd like? Maybe you're on the right trajectory and generally happy with the direction of your life and business but wondering how to feel even more fulfilled. As a businesswoman, I've found that one strategy separates the women who struggle and climb slowly from the women who accelerate and take off like a rocket. This strategy isn't complicated or difficult to sustain -- all it takes is a shift in mindset.

The women who achieve their goals more quickly are those who decide to let people in and build community with people who understand them, support them in their challenges and celebrate their victories. Community with others isn't a luxury -- it's a necessity for success. When you fear new connections, avoid healthy competition and hide your vulnerabilities or true self, you set yourself up for personal and professional failure.

Isolation stifles growth and causes physical and mental stress. In fact, social isolation can result in interrupted sleep patterns and altered gene expression that increases aging and stress.

Related: 6 Strategies for Managing a Fast Growing Company

If that lonely-at-the-top feeling doesn't go away, it will only be a matter of time before it effects your business. After all, building a business isn't a one-woman show. Admitting that you need help shouldering some of the burden is a major part of building a successful company.

Whether you want accelerated growth or simply want to stop feeling isolated, here are six strategies to help you address those challenges simultaneously:

1. Engage a mastermind partner.

The most important part of finding a mastermind partner is choosing correctly. Make sure your partner is at your level and wants you to be successful. Schedule a weekly call and use each other as sounding boards.

2. Focus on providing value.

Schedule a designated day and time once a month to reach out to someone -- a colleague, peer or friend who could benefit from your support. Surprise support calls do many things: They elevate your sense of purpose in the world, provide a feeling of personal satisfaction, offer real value to someone else, heighten your standing in the community and spark a deeper connection.

3. Join an entrepreneurial group.

Entrepreneurial groups keep the spirit of growth and development alive. They may also be the place to find your mastermind partner. Prestigious organizations such as Young Entrepreneur Council, Entrepreneurs' Organization or Young Presidents' Organization are good when you're more seasoned. Other groups such as the Ellevate network and the Summit Series are helpful no matter your level of business development.

Related: 7 Key Steps to a Growth Strategy That Works Immediately

4. Try a co-working hub.

Co-working hubs such as WeWork and Impact Hub are useful if working from home isn't serving you. These spaces can immediately get you into community with big thinkers and are relatively inexpensive.

5. Prioritize personal relationships.

Your passion for your work can overwhelm your friends and family. Make an extra effort to show those people that they're important, too. I schedule weekly time with my grandmother on my calendar, for example. While that may sound silly, there's nothing wrong with using tools to hold yourself accountable for maintaining your personal relationships.

6. Get a coach.

Finding a coach who's been in your shoes will keep you moving forward and ward off loneliness. Time to talk about yourself -- your challenges, goals and desires -- will do a number of things. It will stop you from overwhelming your romantic partner with work conversation, which isn't healthy for your relationship. It will give you time to reflect on and recognize your behavioral patterns, strengths and weaknesses, helping you focus your energies and perform at a higher level. A good coach will have direct experience with your challenges and provide concrete advice for moving through them.

By focusing on developing a community and employing these strategies, you'll find yourself enjoying faster business growth -- and a feeling of fulfillment.

Related: Your Personal Brand Needs a Growth Strategy

Sumi Krishnan

CEO of K4 Solutions

Sumi Krishnan is the CEO of Falls Church, Va.-based K4 Solutions, which provides technology and staffing services. She also offers success coaching to aspiring and established female entrepreneurs.

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