Behind every successful entrepreneur there is a rock-solid support system of colleagues, mentors, coaches, advisors, friends, and family.
Nobody gets to the top without some help along the way, and it’s important to start building your professional network as early as possible so you’ll have an established support system when the going gets tough.
Building a business isn’t easy, and you need people that you can turn to for advice, encouragement, or sometimes a kick in the ass that spurs you to keep climbing up that success ladder! There will be times that you will encounter problems you don’t know how to solve. You’ll have days that leave you feeling depleted and discouraged and wondering if you’re on the right path. You’ll achieve amazing wins that you can’t wait to share. Who will you turn to?
Just like The Beatles, I get by with a little help from my friends, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
I worked hard to build my personal and professional support network, and it has been a vital part of my success story. Here’s what you need to keep in mind as you’re choosing your ride or dies for your journey to the top:
· Connect with Purpose
Let’s be completely honest- I don’t need to be best buddies with EVERYBODY, and I couldn’t even if I wanted to! When you’re building your professional network, go for quality over quantity. It’s great to have a vast network, but it won’t do you much good if you can’t really count on the people that are in it!
Focus on connecting with a purpose. Don’t bother reaching out to EVERY familiar face on LinkedIn. Instead, concentrate on connecting with people that inspire you, people that have already achieved the goals you’re working toward, or people you’d like to collaborate with in the future.
· Don’t Try to Be Someone You’re Not
Of course, you want to present yourself as a thought leader and a trusted authority in your field, but don’t go overboard! Networks thrive on REAL, authentic connections, so you have to be yourself. Not everyone will love you, and that’s okay.
Don’t try to make EVERYONE happy. It won’t work- you’re not chocolate. Focus on connecting with the people that like you just as you are, quirks and all. You want a support network that loves YOU, not someone you’re trying to be.
· Don’t Force It
Some people make a GREAT first impression, but then as you get to know them, you realize you’re not vibing like you thought you would. Don’t waste time and energy trying to build a connection that’s just not there. There’s no reason to force relationships. It’s fine to recognize that you don’t have a natural connection and move on.
You don’t have to burn any bridges, just keep it friendly and leave it at that. It’s the professional version of saying hi to an acquaintance in the grocery store!
· Give What You Want to Get
Relationships, both personal and professional, are a two-way street. Think about what you want to gain from this connection BEFORE you reach out. Are you seeking encouragement? Advice? Inspiration? A helping hand?
More importantly, are you willing to offer the same? Be willing to give what you want to get. Strong, lasting connections are forged by showing up for each other in good times and bad.
· Keep in Touch
If you haven’t spoken to someone in five years, are they REALLY in your network? Relationships won’t last without communication, so make sure you’re reaching out to those important people regularly. A simple email, text, DM, or phone call is all it takes to nurture those connections, so make keeping in touch one of your top priorities.
When you have people that you can rely on to build you up, be your biggest cheerleader, and stand by your side as you take your next big step, you’ve set yourself up for next-level success.
So, get out there! Make those connections!
This is YOUR success story, and you should fill it with amazing people that inspire you, bring you joy, and encourage you to keep going.