Building a network of contacts: How to build an entrepreneurial support structure

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There are many benefits that come from developing an entrepreneurial support network. This article explores some key options involved in building a network of entrepreneurial contacts – that you can draw from for social support and to help grow your startup.

Meeting outer entrepreneurs

One of the first steps in building your support structure is to look to meet other entrepreneurs. These are people that have gone or are going through similar experiences to you. Not only are other entrepreneurs a great source of advice – people who you can run ideas past – but they are also a source of emotional support.

Starting a business is not easy, and there will inevitably be times when you run into issues. Having a group of other entrepreneurs that you know (ideally also on a social level), can help you get through these more difficult times.

Some possible ways of meeting other entrepreneurs include:

  • Past contacts and acquaintances: Make sure to reach out to people that you already know.
  • Co-working spaces: Co-working spaces are a great way of meeting other entrepreneurs.
  • Startup accelerators: Can help form close bonds with a group going through very similar experiences.
  • Joining entrepreneurial groups or attending events: A great way of meeting people on a social level is to attend local entrepreneurial resource groups.

Develop a reputation for helping other entrepreneurs

Beyond meeting other entrepreneurs, it is also important that you start to develop a reputation for helping others. Some of the key reasons for helping others include:

  1. You will likely learn from others in the process
  2. Build up a source you can turn to for advice
  3. Build up your reputation for helping others – opens up new opportunities and referrals

Reach out through contacts to grow your network

Once you have developed a basic group of contacts, it is important to consider ways of increasing the reach of your network by actively working to grow your network. Most likely initial contacts that you have made will know others, and there may be opportunities to reach out through existing contacts that you have made.