As an entrepreneur, I direct myself; motivate myself; work for myself and strategically plan, often by myself: in my garage office, attached to my residence, in a cul-de-sac, in a sleepy town in Devon. Being an entrepreneur can be isolating and lonely – the flip side of this is that entrepreneurship can be the most exciting challenge facing you where the peace and solitude are welcome to enable you to fully concentrate on the path ahead.
So I started networking a couple of years ago – to raise my local profile; to meet people; to belong to a wider community. I have met some amazing people during my time: Amazingly Good and Appallingly Bad but all of them have taught me a lesson for my future.
Yesterday, the first person I consciously connected with on Social Media Platforms as I started my networking journey set up a Facebook group called The Networking Retreat (https://www.facebook.com/groups/thenetworkingretreat) within 18 minutes he had 100 members, within the first 2 hours he had 200 members. He encouraged all members to connect with other members in the most appropriate way: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter. 24 hours down the line, the group has 253 members and the creator of this group is Stefan Thomas (https://uk.linkedin.com/in/noredbraces). So why am I telling you all this?
Well entrepreneurs often feel cut off from everyone. Many of us have left busy corporate jobs with plenty of colleagues to share the everyday burdens to “go it alone” and sometimes that can be a lonely path – even for the most positive among us. I am fortunate that my chosen path is social media so I spend my days engaging with others, but this is not case for all. And that is where Stefan’s new group is such an amazing jewel. A forum for engagement to swap best practice and seek advice from other professionals in a variety of occupational and vocational fields. Yesterday I connected with about 20 people that I didn’t know as the day dawned and today I have connected with a further 30 or so people that I might never otherwise have met.
I’ve had a couple of fleeting conversations with some acquaintances who I’m now connected to and I’ve had an in depth conversation with someone who lives very close to where I was born and bred. I find these conversations nourishing to my soul – and if my soul is singing, my whole outlook on life is happier.
So that’s what I can take from the group – but the bigger question, the more important question, is what I can give back to the group.
Well I’ve got a couple of years experience under my belt now of being an entrepreneur and of being a networker. I have been so fortunate to have had a team role within one of the major national networking groups and I always refer to the past couple of years as being my apprenticeship in networking. I’ve learned so much, I’ve met so many people, I’ve done a whole heap of listening and I’ve probably done more than my fair share of talking – the help, support and advice that I have received over the period would have cost me thousands of pounds. By listening to the experience of others, I have been able to avoid many pitfalls that other fledgling companies succumb to. I want to share this experience with others. I want to help them as I was helped.
There has been a lot of violence around lately. Football violence; hate crimes; gun crimes. A lot of negativity has been swirling. Spend any amount of time on social media and you will come across sites and conversations that are trolled – people who would rather peddle negativity that uplift and motivate. Stefan’s group, The Network Retreat, had so much love and joy flowing through it yesterday that it uplifted me and motivated me to get engaged. We need more joy in our lives and we need to push that happiness out to the community because only love will conquer hatred. Only community will mend social unrest. Be that person who spreads the joy and love to those around you. Just as Stefan spreads his positivity throughout the group that I joined yesterday.
Being an entrepreneur is about being an active member of society, influencing positively, challenging courteously and accepting failure graciously.
Be that entrepreneur and spread happiness wherever you go.
And request to be a member of The Networking Retreat if you want to make the most of opportunities presented to you.
See you soon