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Networking and Mentorship

Networking and Mentorship

As our business has grown we’ve faced new challenges. We’ve never really had a mentor or participated in frequent networking events. I’m sure some of our challenges are unique but perhaps many have shared similar challenges. We’ve definitely learned some hard lessons that perhaps could have been avoided. 

We’ve started attending more networking events to try and connect with other similar businesses to get help finding solutions to our problems. There seems to be 3 main types of Networking events/meetups that I've been to. Here’s what I’ve learned from attending these events.

Large Organized Groups with Speakers

These can be interesting events and often have some high caliber entrepreneurs. I attended one yesterday with a list of 20 speakers or so. All with important things to say. But it was an endless line of people speaking on wildly different topics. People just get lost. They forgot who was talking about what, or tune out completely after being talked at for 3 hours.

I did find value in the networking portion of this event. Where I had an hour long conversation with another entrepreneur. We discussed employee retention, benefits, marketing ideas, and past experiences in retail. I could have skipped the whole conference and would have had more value meeting for coffee or a beer with that one person.

These events also have a lot of salespeople prospecting. If you’re looking for something specific it might be helpful to connect. Otherwise, it can be draining being forced into small talk or a sales pitch you have no interest in. 

Happy Hours

Happy hours can be a great place to meet or network. Conversations are typically a little looser and perhaps more fun for me personally. However, when you have young kids this can be a difficult proposition. Many of these events occur after working hours. I typically like to prioritize family time after work and so cannot attend most of these events. 

Smaller, more targeted happy hours have been helpful in the past if they can work within my schedule.

Online Forums/Facebook Groups/ X (twitter)

There is a lot of valuable advice out there in specific online groups, facebook, X etc. There’s a wealth of information online to sift through and people willing to take time to respond. However, long form conversations are difficult to maintain on an online platform.

There are also a lot of people out there giving advice. How do you qualify their advice or them as a mentor online? This can often be difficult as the person you’re getting advice from may not actually have any real world experience in that area.

I’m also not great at communicating online or I forget about a conversation and leave them on read for days at a time. Adding more daily screen time can also be problematic or distracting from family and friend time.

My  Solution

That headline is misleading as I don’t have a solution. What works for me might not work for everyone. But in my perfect world I would have a large group of different entrepreneurs.

Ideally there would be a large group of entrepreneurs with diverse backgrounds. This large group would have smaller bi-weekly or monthly breakouts of 2-3 person conversations. Each one would  last 1-2 hours so you can get deep into a topic or business idea. I think you would form a deeper connection with the people you talk  with at these meetings and get more valuable insight and ideas. 


Have you had similar experiences? What kind of networking events would be most valuable to your business? Shoot me an email


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