Being a business owner can feel a bit lonely at times.
The people around us may not always understand what we’re going through.
As much as they try to be supportive, it doesn’t always help.
And sometimes, they aren’t supportive at all!
They wonder when you’re going to give up and get a ‘real job’.
They might even discourage you from pursuing your passion.
They may just not understand the highs and lows of entrepreneurship.
it’s time for a new network
When I was starting my business back in 2013, my network was only full of friends, family, and former colleagues in the financial services industry.
None of them were entrepreneurs.
And so, I had to create a new network – both personally and professional.
You may need to do the same!
When you’re in business, it’s so important to have people around you who are supportive.
You want people who both can inspire and encourage you.
People who hold you accountable to what you say you’re going to do.
People who understand what you’re going through.
there is so much power in a network
Networking doesn’t need to be scary. It doesn’t need to feel artificial. And it certainly can have a positive impact on both you and your business.
1. You find a safe space for the support you need
Surrounding yourself with other entrepreneurs can provide you with the support you need.
These are people who are walking the same path as you. They understand the challenges you are facing and the uncertainty of what’s to come next.
The good news is that there are different ways to network. It doesn’t have to be nerve-wracking and uncomfortable.
The Afri-love Connection Club is a safe space where female founders can be vulnerable, share their struggles and ask for help without feeling intimidated. It truly helps to know that you are not alone on this journey!
2. You find opportunities to learn
It’s likely that you started your business based on something you’re passionate about. But passion alone won’t keep your business afloat.
There are going to be so many things you’ll need to learn, things that are outside of your comfort zone and areas of expertise.
Business networks offer you with opportunities to learn from the pool of experience other entrepreneurs offer.
When you build a network containing different types of businesses and different backgrounds, you’ll learn from variety of experiences, perspectives, and techniques for dealing with challenges.
Plus, you’ll learn faster from the collective wisdom of a group and perhaps even avoid some of the mistakes that others have made.
3. You gain access to who other people know
One frustrating part of networking is that feeling that your ideal client is never attending the same events you are. Or if they are, you never have a chance to interact. The trick to networking is that, the people you meet can be a link to clients elsewhere. You never know who people know!
However, getting links to your ideal client through a network is unlikely to happen after just a single interaction. You have to develop personal relationships and give people a chance to know, like and trust you.
Follow up with the people and give yourself the time and opportunity for meaningful relationships to form and deepen. This is when referrals and collaborations start to occur naturally.
4. You tap into new markets
The connections that you make through networking can open up unexpected opportunities for you.
I found one of my highest-paying clients at a conference that I attended during my first year in business.
I couldn’t really afford to make the trip and I literally knew NO ONE there, but I decided to go anyway. I ended up sitting next to a woman during lunch. She said her organisation was in need of businesses coaches and to share my CV with her.
A couple months later, I ended up landing on of my best clients who, I still work with now, 5 years later.
Networking enables you to meet and establish relationships with people you might never otherwise have met. And great opportunities can come from that!
5. You get the chance to forge partnerships
Networking isn’t just about finding customers but also forging collaborations. You may find that you share a passion that you can transform into a business idea.
My business partner and I were part of the same networking club in London in 2014, and that’s where we discovered they shared a passion for business and for supporting female entrepreneurs.
Fast forward 3 years. Once we were both in Nairobi, we knew that we wanted to do something with these shared passions. And that’s how the Afri-love Connection Club was born.
You never know where life may take you and what opportunities may arise along the way!
Your next best idea may start as a casual conversation and develop into something real over time. By being part of a network, you may just find that perfect someone with a skill or contribution that’s necessary to get your business going.
would you like power in your network?
Whether you’re just starting your business or have been in operation for several years, if you’re a female founder in Nairobi or Mombasa, I invite you to join the Afri-love Connection Club!
For all the diversity that is present in the Afri-love Connection Club, the one thing that ties all our members together is that we’re all really passionate about what we do.
And this is what we look for when going through applications, to ensure that we bring together women who are committed to their purpose and to their personal and business growth.
Applications are open until 15 April 2019 (and quarterly thereafter). Read more about the Club and submit your application here!
P.S. If you’re a female founder, but in neither Nairobi nor Mombasa, we’re working on something special for you. Leave your details with us here to learn more!