How personal and business networks can help during a crisis
Now, more than any other time, having a strong network of both professional and personal contacts has become an essential part of survival during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is a well-accepted fact that the most successful business leaders utilise their contacts to help them build a support network – after all it is not what you know but who you know! As humans we are social creatures and having someone to share your own business experience with can help to keep some perspective, feel supported and encourage you on your business journey.
Positive support from other people in the same situation as yourself can be extremely beneficial for your mental health but it can also act as a sounding board for ideas on how to help your business survive. Sharing experiences can also reassure you when you are feeling unsteady about the hard choices that you are facing. It can also help to reduce those feelings of social isolation and loneliness.
Dr Jo Webber, CEO of social networking app Pod, said that utilizing spare time while in self-isolation to network online was a way of “laying the foundation for future growth for when the pandemic comes to an end.” (Source CNBC.com)
There is plenty of Government advice to help businesses on a practical and financial level but sometimes it is the warm, straight-talking advice from a fellow entrepreneur that can often make the difference to your state of mind. It can help to make you feel in control of the situation and feel more confident in your decision making, at a time of stress.
Many of the businesses who have engaged in the GetSet for Growth programme recognise the importance of support networks, and time and time again, they are mentioned when we interview growing business owners. For example, Erin Thomas Wong, set up Making Mumpreneurs, an online community designed to support and empower mums running their own business.
She created an online membership part of Making Mumpreneurs, called “The Cocoon – a Safe place to Learn, Evolve and Grow”. The Cocoon offers masterclasses, expert advice, member calls, accountability and continual support to help the mums grow their business.
But how do you go about achieving this especially when we are all under lock down and unable to meet and chat to other business owners in person?
Top Tips for a Tip Top Network
- Look for any business groups on social media in your area – Meetup, a platform which allows people to link with others based on shared interests has over a thousand “Work at Home” groups
- Join Grow Smart where there is a community of likeminded business professionals
- You probably know other small business owners so why not set up your own group on Facebook, LinkedIn or WhatsApp – don’t be afraid of asking for opinions, post your own thoughts and create more visibility for yourself
- Join online training workshops to virtually “meet” other businesses as well as develop your skills to increase your capability to survive during the current climate. Keep an eye on Eventbrite and GetSet for Growth for workshop dates such as the upcoming “Building Business Resilience and Future Prosperity”
- Use the current situation to allow you to be braver than you would at that scary networking event set in a room full of people you don’t know! Reach out to that really interesting person you met once and never contacted again
- If you are lucky enough to already have a business mentor, make sure that you are in touch with them to gain their insight into your individual situation. If you haven’t got a mentor, now might be the time to sound out someone you respect especially if they work in a different sector but have skills and experience you would benefit from. If you are a female entrepreneur, get in touch with Accelerating Women’s Enterprise and Enterprising Women who can match you with mentors.