Any business owner understands the power of networking. Savvy entrepreneurs are always on the lookout for their next networking opportunity, whether it’s a friend’s dinner party or the pediatrician’s waiting room. And while networking goals usually center around new sales leads, entrepreneurs can gain something just as valuable from chatting with others…and that’s inspiration.
Ever have coffee with a good friend and feel ten times more energized and ready to take on the world after? For many female entrepreneurs, connecting with like-minded individuals can have a strong mind-boosting and motivating affect. Good conversations can inspire and change us; they can lead to important epiphanies; they can cure the isolation of working from home; and they can offer support during challenging times.
So how can you tap into this inspirational energy and use it to grow your business?
Join a formal networking or entrepreneur group that meets on a weekly or monthly basis. Check with your local chamber of commerce for any groups in your area. Do some general searches on the Internet (including Craigslist, Meetup.com, and Twitter) to find any relevant groups…whether virtual or in real life. Participating in a professional group gives you a chance to see and learn from the success of other entrepreneurs, share business models, and success secrets.
- Attend industry events. Beyond the keynotes and panel sessions, industry events can offer incredibly valuable networking opportunities where you can meet others in your industry.
- Participate on industry blogs. The comments section of a blog often serve as a virtual watercooler where you can share your thoughts and engage in discussions about the topics that matter to you. So, if a blog sparks an idea, share it in the comments (or your own social network) and see where it goes.
- Create your own meetup group...whether formal or informal. Did you once work with a great graphic designer? Ask work colleagues (probably not clients or customers) if they'd be interested in meeting up every once in awhile to brainstorm, discuss the latest business trends, offer support, etc. If you’ve built a strong Twitter network, organize a Tweetup in order to parlay that network into an even more powerful experience talking face to face.
- Spend time in collocated office space. Working from home significantly limits your networking opportunities, but not everyone is in a position to pay the monthly lease for office space. Fortunately, collocated offices are sprouting up in many areas that let you ‘rent’ an office or desk for a few hours a week. Here, you can find many freelancers and entrepreneurs just like yourself.
No matter how busy your days get, take some time to network. You’ll be amazed at just how inspired you can become from the energy of others. It will rejuvenate your creativity and spirit…which can boost your business’ bottom line.