When talking about networking, what we mean is creating opportunities for entrepreneurs to be able to bump into one another and collaborate. Together they explore future growth, swap best practices and provide feedback on their individual business endeavors. We know from groundbreaking research out of the Kauffman Foundation that entrepreneurs of all stripes flourish best when given chances to learn from each other.
The Way Forward
Forward thinking regions are always looking to bring entrepreneurs together. They rework traditional offerings to include Young Professional groups, home based businesses, makers groups, retirees and entrepreneurial minded civic and non-profit organizations.
What does this look like?
Networking can range from one time extravaganzas to weekly 1 Million Cups coffees or Tech Brews. Whatever the forum, the purpose is to make connections. The plan creates well attended social, professional, and personal networking events filled with entrepreneurs – not just startups but small business owners and innovators talking with one another.
Typically, economic development organizations fall into the networking need category as they facilitate helping to connect entrepreneurs to the right resources.
Where to start? There is no need to recreate the wheel, many statewide organizations have created viable approaches to supporting entrepreneur networking events- and they are just a call away. Organizational leaders like the Technology Association of Iowa, and Iowa Association of Business & Industry are key leaders in this regard.
EDA University Center Role
Our role as an EDA University Center is to facilitate and encourage the formation of local events utilizing best practices from both within Iowa and nationally. Our goal is to expand opportunities for entrepreneurs (all stages/level) to share best practices, mentor each other, and/or consider collaborations and identify service needs within each region.