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How Your Network Can Make You More Productive Small-business owners who don't have the resources to hire a team can still increase their productivity by turning to their network -- and it won't cost a penny.

By Jason Womack Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Have you found that your productivity fluctuates, relative to the people you spend the most time with? There are people in your network who will encourage your productivity and people who will drain your enthusiasm and energy -- even after just a conversation with them. You want to spend more time with that first group.

"Change who you spend your life with, and your life will change," Les Brown, author and motivational speaker, once told me when we were backstage together at a conference. We have choices about who we spend our time with and some people help us be more productive than others.

Imagine having a fabulous team of people around you that provides honest, constructive feedback; helps you move forward and grow your business and has only your best interests at heart. Even as an entrepreneur with limited resources to hire and recruit people, you often have such a team in your corner when you take the time to activate them.

Related: Don't Waste Another Networking Opportunity: 6 Tips for Following Up

To get started creating your team right now, make a list of the first people who come to mind in the following two categories:

  • five people you look up to and admire
  • five people you would like to spend an extra hour with this month

From this original list of ten, ask yourself: "Who are the top three people who care the most about my personal and professional success?" Identify the people on your list you know will give you honest feedback and challenge and encourage you. Write their names on a separate sheet.

Some of the people on your final list may be friends, colleagues or mentors you haven't talked with in a long time. Now would be a good time to reconnect with them by phone or email. Let them know how much you value their perspective. Ask them to be part of your "growth team" as you commit to move your business forward. These are the people you can share your challenges with and turn to for ideas on how to increase productivity.

Related: 3 Ingredients for Building Effective Teams

Ask them if you can be in touch once per week for the next five weeks to check in and be accountable for doing what you said you'd do. Why five weeks? Because limiting yourself to five weeks forces you to act quickly and assertively as you move your business forward. The limited time frame also lets the people you are sharing this journey with know you are not going to draw on their time endlessly. This allows them to more fully support you during the defined short window of time while giving your business a fresh perspective.

Think about the areas of expertise your new team brings to your business. What role might they each play in helping you work smarter? Who would you turn to with questions about networking, action plans, or life/work balance? Who would you query about processes or systems, opening new markets, or for help on a presentation? Know the role each of your team members fills. When a situation in that category arrives, you'll quickly know who to connect with.

Even if you are just getting started with your first business, you now have a team of people who want you to succeed and will hold you accountable for doing what you said you'd do. This is a team who brings their own experiences and insights to your situations, allowing you to be more productive more quickly.

Related: What You Should Take Off Your Desk Right Now

Jason Womack


Jason W. Womack is founder of the Womack Co., a productivity-training firm based in Ojai, Calif. He also founded to coach a global community of entrepreneurs in skills to thrive in business. Womack is the author of Your Best Just Got Better: Work Smarter, Think Bigger, Make More (Wiley, 2012).


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