Cultivating Your Tribe: NETWORK

This is the second article in a four-part series on cultivating your tribe.

Entrepreneurship can be a lonely road-- especially at first. It could take years to make your first hire, and even then, depending on that hire, their role, and your relationship, that person might not be someone that you choose to confide in, or seek counsel from. That’s why you have to build your tribe.

I’ve found that no tribe is complete without friends and family, peers, a general network of like-minded individuals, and mentors/mentees. These buckets of people tend to overlap, cross-over, and sometimes the same people can fill multiple or even all roles. In this four-part series, we’ll explore how to fill each of these roles, how to balance your sphere of influence and how to make sure your tribe is suited to your needs.

Networking matters, and don’t let your inner-introvert tell you otherwise. If I’m completely honest, it’s one of my least-favorite business activities-- the awkward atmospheres, the bland chit chat is usually enough to send me to the ladies room or straight to social media. But navigating these situations, and making the most out of these events is important, and it can be an artform.

Whether they’re in your industry, city, instagram following, it doesn’t matter, your network is there to serve you, and vice versa.

Networking creates visibility and opportunity and it’s a long-term investment-- as life changes and as you move throughout your career, you never know how someone can play a role in your future eco-system.

Some networking tips I’ve learned along the way:

1. Be Intentional

Pressed for time? Be cautious about the events you choose to go to. Make sure your activities are aligned with your goals. Through alignment, you’ll find the right partners, customers, mentors, and more.

2. Be open about your goals

People can’t help you if they don’t know what you’re trying to do, so make your goals known! What you’re looking to accomplish says a lot about who you are and lends the person on the other side of the conversation a lens to brainstorm how they might be able to help you. Plus, there's nothing shadier than ulterior motives.

3. Offer Value

No matter where you’re starting from, you can always provide value. New to an industry? You can provide fresh eyes. A veteran? You can provide insight, wisdom, and even deepen their network. No one is too small to offer value.

4. Follow Up

Stay in touch just after meeting someone and find ways to keep them as an active part of your network. This could be anything from liking/sharing their posts on social media, to a quick hello email during a particular season, an invite to an event you feel is aligned to their goals/needs, or sharing an article, book, or podcast you think they’d love.