|Rich Best has spent 28 years in the financial services industry, as an advisor, a managing partner, directors of training and marketing, and now as a consultant to the industry. Rich has written extensively on a broad range of personal finance topics and is published on several top financial sites. Recent books include The American Family Survival Bible and Annuity Facts Revealed: What You MUST Know Before You Invest.|
Networking Your Way to Business Success
Starting and running a business is one of the most challenging endeavors anyone can undertake, especially where competition, fast-moving market conditions, or uncertain business conditions mount tremendous obstacles for new business owners. Even in the best conditions, entrepreneurs can benefit from the advice and support of those who have come before them.
Building a solid business support network doesn’t take a major effort, and the benefits to be derived can help business owners keep their sanity while growing their business.
All 5 of these business support mechanisms can be easily accessed and work in concert to provide an optimal amount of support:
Join the industry: Starting with the obvious, if your business is associated with a trade group or association, then you must join it. Industry groups are often the greatest resource for timely information, business tools, marketing data, and they usually sponsor local or regional meetings that are gold mines for networking and gathering vital business information.
Networking meetings: People of all walks gather in weekly or monthly social settings where ideas are exchanged, pitches are made, relationships are developed, and business is conducted. Networking meetings can be found that match your business purpose, your occupational specialty, and even your target market. It is probably the best setting to share in the tribulations and successes of other, like-minded people.
Online networking: The more obvious networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn provide avenues for people to join niche communities where people gather online in forums and chat rooms to exchange ideas and ask questions. By participating in forums attended by your customers, you have a chance to make your presence and expertise known by providing answers and information. If you have a web presence, active forum participation can increase traffic to your site.
Join support groups: A more high-level, focused support group can be spawned out of relationships built from networking meetings or online forums. This is a more formal meeting of half a dozen people conducted monthly. They are usually designed as workshops that include a few hours of discussion on topics of interest to the group. Each month, one member is responsible for bringing in a guest speaker who offers a unique perspective or expertise.
Find a mentor: The most effective and direct source of support and advice is through a mentor or coach, ideally one who shares either your business purpose or your entrepreneurial vision. A mentor is someone who is successful, but more importantly, is seasoned in the trials and tribulations of running a business. A good mentor speaks his mind and provides invaluable feedback on your business’s positive and negative aspects. They are also known to take your phone call at just about any time of day.
If you feel your progress has slowed to crawl and you find yourself doing the same thing repeatedly, expecting different results, stop driving yourself insane and get to work building your business support network.
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