Networking Holds the Key to Your Solopreneur Success
Taking on a solo enterprise can be a daunting – and often lonely – prospect. It’s not wise to sequester yourself away and commit to a career without help. Networking is an important contributing factor to your initial and continued success. How do you network as a solopreneur? It’s actually easier than you think. Check out how strategic partnerships can benefit you (and your business) as you both grow.
Find the Right People
Technology makes finding like-minded individuals a breeze. Thanks to today’s interconnected world, you can collaborate with people who share your vision virtually, from anywhere on the globe. Join a problem solving forum, or create a community where you can meet with others and share your ideas. You can search for meetings by industry or discipline using a website like Meetup, which connects people both face-to-face and virtually.
Seek Out Formal Help
Part of being a successful solopreneur is to never stop innovating, and one way to achieve that is to be committed to your learning. You don’t necessarily have to go back to school and get your MBA to achieve this (though that’s a great option). Look into extension courses and business classes through your local community college, or tap into online resources like coursera.org. These types of programs will link you to like-minded individuals with whom you can swap ideas, or just commiserate over a beer or cup of coffee.
Another avenue for formal help is leadership or solopreneur coaching. Coaches can help you design a business plan, hone your vision, establish your brand, or help you with your weaker aspects of running a business.
Don’t Meet With People Who Think Just Like You
We tend to be drawn to people who share our values or think like we do by nature. It’s comforting to share opinions and trade ideas with people who are just like us, but it’s not always beneficial. Communing with those who are different from us can be a valuable exercise. Meeting people with different perspectives serves a couple of different purposes:
Explaining your business plan or vision to someone from a completely different industry can provide you with a much needed dissimilar outlook. It’s easy for someone with industry experience to agree with you or understand your perspective; but explaining your idea to someone else entirely is much like pitching to a customer.
If you’re faced with a vexing business problem, running it under a fresh set of eyes can help you come up with creative solutions. Think of another person’s differences as complementary to your own. Getting a diverse set of opinions allows you to see your issue through a unique lens, and craft a creative solution.
Keep Business Cards Handy
You never know when a valuable networking opportunity is going to arise, so keep your business cards on hand at all times. What started as a causal business lunch or simple meeting could turn into a strategic partnership in time. Always be prepared to hand out your name and number. Keep a stash of other people’s cards in your desk—you never know when you’ll need to pick a brain or ask for help.