Using Your Network to Grow as an Entrepreneur

Recently, I’ve been thinking long and hard about ways to use the incalculably fantastic network of intelligent, experienced and creative people I’ve met over the past few years; 170 LinkedIn contacts, nearly a thousand Twitter followers, mountains of business cards and an address book that’s as full of passionate people as a TED Talk!

So when a friend pointed me to the Get Rich Slowly blog earlier, where Marc Hedlund, co-founder and CEO of Wesabe wrote a guest-post, one idea really tickled me.

Write someone and ask them for help every day
It’s amazing how well this works. Just make a habit of coming up with one person each day that might be able to help you in some way — with an introduction, an idea, a conversation, anything. If you think of someone you already know, then it’s easy to ask for help, but don’t be bashful about asking people you don’t know for help.

When you tell people you’re working on starting your own business, many of them will get excited or interested, and be willing to offer a hand. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back — just try someone else the next day. When you’re starting a new business no one knows what you’re up to, so reaching out and asking for help very often can do an enormous amount to get things rolling.

Simple, no? Take 10 minutes every day to approach someone who has either more experience, or a different view to yours, and ask them a burning question. At first, you might worry you’ll get the cold shoulder – and sometimes you will, the world is full of assholes. But it’s also full of great people with plenty of insight to share.

Keep a scratchbook – mine’s a pocket moleskine – of all sorts of questions and ideas. Don’t hesitate to approach the big wigs either. You’d be surprised how happy high-profile people can be when you’re modest and honest about your requests.

Of course, don’t waste their time and ask a question for the sake of asking. Use those few minutes a day wisely and you’ll expand your knowledge, your network and your horizons.

3 responses to “Using Your Network to Grow as an Entrepreneur

  1. Ian

    Hey Vero,

    Great blog.

    As someone who has just started out in IT recruitment where my role is very much a business-within-a-business, this is how I’m approaching my network. You’re right, sometimes it is met with a brash attitude and sometimes quite the opposite. I can sometimes feel the pain of something not happening. Even today, my neck is beginning to ache with frustration and a hint of hysteria sets up home in my waking world. The possibility of failing and losing credibility is stalking me and I am eager to fight it off. THe thing that keeps me going through the role of recruitment is that it’s about people and I *LOVE* people.

    I bounce between new business development from scratch, from research or from contacts and doing the operational, service driven aspect of my job. Sometimes it can be frsutrating but would I change it? No… I wouldn’t. Not yet. I’m here to be damn good at my job and if that means building my business through networking and mutually beneficial relationship building then HELLO WORLD!

  2. Glad you liked the piece. And you’re right, it can be very easy to get help from those that you might think would be inaccessible. It’s great that you’re thinking about efficient use of their time. I’ve found it very worthwhile – find someone you can reach via email, linkedin, or whatever, and just drop them a line.

    Best wishes.

    -M

  3. I like the post and I think it plays on a great social rule which is social gratification and recognition. Asking someone for help in something that they are good and that they want to excel, i believe, can exponantially increase the results!
    cheers from Canada

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Oh hello there!

I'm Véro - a crafty, knitty, spinny gal who enjoys making (and drinking) a cocktail or three. If you've stumbled here, you might enjoy browsing some of my older posts with the tags over to the right or finding out more about me.

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