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Why Meeting Other Entrepreneurs is Key (& How to Do it)

by Sean Patrick Hopwood 2 years ago in advice
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Meeting other entrepreneurs is a great way to grow professionally, broaden your world view, form new partnerships, and learn from the experiences of others.

Why Meeting Other Entrepreneurs is Key (& How to Do it)
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Meeting other entrepreneurs is a great way to grow professionally, broaden your world view, form new partnerships, and learn from the experiences of others.

There are numberless ways to do this: Either meetups and networking events, or just spontaneously sending a message to a LinkedIn connection that you admire, and inviting them to meet up for coffee.

But, during the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak, our channels and chances to meet new people have reduced. How can we continue networking, having intelligent, genuine and valuable conversations with colleagues, mentors, and potential business partners, through digital channels?

In this post, we'll take a look at the importance of networking, and the platforms every young professional should use in order to continue growing, without breaking social distancing.

Relationships are Everything

85% of all positions are filled through networking. It’s always about who you know. Being talented, hardworking, and having a great vision isn’t enough if you don’t meet people who can get to know you and appreciate you enough to help you succeed.

Great businesses are born from a great product and a deep knowledge of the customer - but they grow through strong strategic relationships. For entrepreneurs - especially, for young entrepreneurs, networking isn’t optional.

While meeting other entrepreneurs is always enriching, elder, more experienced business people can support us and inspire us through their mentorship. On the other hand, a friend or a counterpart could eventually become a partner in a new, exciting venture.

But, with 95% of professionals pointing to face-to-face meetings as the bedrock of long-lasting professional relationships, it might be impossible to fathom our professional life as 100% online. It might be hard, but it can be done. Let’s take a look at five ways to continue networking effectively in the age of Covid-19:

Join Online Communities

Joining communities and groups, both online and offline, is always a great way to network and grow professionally and personally.

Mostly offline groups have now been forced to operate fully online. You can take this chance to introduce yourself and start building relationships within these communities.

Some groups, such as Girls in Tech, help female professionals find a great job in the field. Others, like StartupSauce Academy are strictly for SaaS founders. These groups organize events, provide training, and offer a diverse, understanding space where ambitious young women can share their ideas, projects, and professional anxieties.

Luckily, there are numberless groups offering this sort of help and networking opportunities to young professionals. It's all about finding your niche. It can be related to your identity, to your area of interest, or to an intersection of the two.

On the other hand, numerous LinkedIn and Facebook groups, as well as Subreddits and other more informal online spaces can also serve as incredible networking platforms.

Don’t Shy Away from Online Events

Seminars, workshops, courses, masterclasses, roundtables, and other types of events that used to be organized locally, and therefore exclusive to a very particular set of people, are now going online.

You can join these events, not only to learn more about a specific subject related to your work but also as a networking opportunity.

One of the greatest losses we've got due to all these events going online is the loss of the possibility to start a casual conversation with the person sitting by your side, having a hard time understanding a concept, or helping you find the restroom. Even if these events don't allow for casual exchanges between the attendants, we can use the event as a conversation starter, and send a LinkedIn connection request to the organizers or speakers.

Be Patient

Covid-19 forced companies to go through an emergency digital transformation. Businesses that weren't used to operating remotely now have to handle most (or all) of their processes with employees who are working from home.

Whether you're in one of these industries, or in one that provides essential services, this is the time to be especially understanding of a late response or an unread email. Follow up after a week. Don't be demanding, and, as always, respect your colleagues' time as much as you respect them.

Spontaneity Takes the Cake

Face-to-face meetings are an opportunity to get to know our colleagues better than we would by only communicating online. Being able to perceive their body language, and have non-curated, non-edited exchanges with them is vital to build a relationship with them, and it's linked to productivity.

But, we can still have "face-to-face" meetings - through video calls. Dress up for these meetings, just like you would if you were going to meet your colleagues in person. And just be yourself, be as fresh and spontaneous as you would during a normal meeting.

In fact, be spontaneous and honest in all your communications. From emails reaching out and inviting your colleague to a call, to the follow-up and thank-you note after the meeting takes place.

Inviting someone for a coffee digitally might feel a little cold. And it surely isn't what we're used to. But it's the best we can do, for the time being.

Stay candid, acknowledge that the situation isn't ideal, be helpful, understanding, and sincere.

Go International

This might be a great opportunity to enjoy one of the greatest benefits that the internet has brought about: That of being able to interact with people from all over the world, with time zone differences and language as our only constraints.

It might be the right time to meet colleagues from abroad, share your different worldviews and experiences, and establish a bond of mutual support. Potential language differences might make the prospect of meeting foreign entrepreneurs kind of daunting. But the obstacle of language can easily be overcome if you’re willing to count on a phone interpreter to mediate your conversation.

You should also consider joining online events from foreign associations in your industry, such as meetups and congresses. Most of these events will probably be conducted in a lingua franca - which will most likely be English.

Abrupt, profound changes like those that came with the Covid-19 outbreak might pose numberless challenges. But, with the right mindset, they can be opportunities to do great things that we otherwise would have never thought about.

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Sean Patrick Hopwood

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