Why is your network so vital to business success?

Starting a small business is exciting, but it’s also difficult. One important resource you’ll need to marshal is your network – this means social contacts in family, social, professional and recreational networks, as well as professional role models. Later you’ll need access to another type of network as well, comprising lawyers, bankers, accountants, suppliers, potential customers and investors.

Why is an entrepreneur’s network of contacts so important?

Research shows that an entrepreneur’s use of networks is highest during the pre-venture planning stage and tapers off as the business starts and grows. This might be attributed to the lack of time the new business owner has for eating, let alone networking. Still, entrepreneurs can credit their success to networking and developing contacts to generate ideas, test concepts, and get support. Some cultures benefit from a strong connection to their faith or heritage communities. For example, Canada’s Indigenous community has a long history in the practice of storytelling. Stories are told to share the way of life of Indigenous people within and outside the community. Experiences are passed down so that other generations can benefit from the collective wisdom.

So, how do you expand your network?

Make sure to reach out to other entrepreneurs who can help connect you to other people. “Can you connect me?” or “Who is the one person in your network you think I should meet?” are two powerful phrases that you should get comfortable using over and over. Entrepreneurs like to help new and growing businesses succeed — it’s their way of giving back for the help that they too received in the early stages. If you’re shy or an introvert and shudder at the thought of networking, start slowly. Join a local business meet-up group, your local Chamber of Commerce or other business clubs to help get you started. When you’re a business owner, you’re in the sales business — and sometimes that means making small talk. But fear not! Learning to network effectively is a great skill to develop. Check out this blog post for more tips for networking for the networking-averse!

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