In Praise of (Your) Network

Now, even though I’m taking a little time off this week, I wanted to share my thoughts on something a LOT of small business owners and start-up entrepreneurs forget about:  Their network of business associates, friends, mentors, and – frankly – fans.  A few years ago, amidst the lockdowns and uncertainty of the pandemic, there was a lot of focus on this concept, but I see so many talented operators suffering – yes, that’s the word,  suffering – from it I thought I’d spend some time on it this week.

In a lot of ways, what really happens is a sort of “Groupthink” but, of course, the “group” is awfully small.  The idea, though, and the term was first documented by William H. White in 1952, and you’d better beware of it.

Basically, what  happens in “classical” groupthink is too many folks in the group think the same way, and with everybody doing the same thing, no new ideas are created.

Sound a lot like your home office?

I thought so.

So here we are.  You need to get out more.  I’m not talking about “retail therapy” or any of that nonsense, or stopping to get a Starbucks, I mean going out and interacting with others in your field, or industry, or related arenas.

And no, watching a webinar or a YouTube video is NOT the same vibe as a live event, or even meeting an associate for lunch.  Seriously – you need to get out and get some exposure.  I’ve shared some of my own experiences with this – a few weeks ago, joining Grant at his mastermind in Miami, or just a few days ago, meeting with some Keap partners in Nashville as I started our trip to New Mexico – but even if you don’t have resources like those?

Get somewhere.  Go to the local Chamber event.  Go visit some BNI groups near you.  Or go sit down with some experts or professionals in other fields.  You’ve got an attorney, a CPA, and a banker, right?  Meet them for lunch once a month, if only to talk about the current state of their business.  You never know, it might – and seemingly always does, at least for me – end up in a referral to you or one you can pass along to them.

The end result of this meeting?  It’s not just about business, it’s also an attention reset, just like we use in live events and speaking engagements.  It gets you out of your comfort zone.  It makes you get dressed up.  It gives you a chance to not only mentor others, but to be a protege, too.

In short?  It’s a damn good thing for you, and ultimately?  It’s going to help build up your network, too.  Who do they know?  What’s happening in their industry?  What are they worried about or bullish about for the future?

…And the same goes for you.

Of course, you can do this with Zoom, too, and many of us have become very comfortable with those kinds of calls, but I’ve noticed an informality that’s happened now.  We’re so used to just “doing a Zoom call” that we don’t give those folks the attention they deserve.

However you choose to begin meeting, you really owe it to yourself to seek out these chances to learn, to think around new corners, and to challenge yourself to simply be open to new ideas.  Ignore growth at your own peril!

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