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An entrepreneurial network is a social organization for new business owners. These organizations, which may be loose associations or structured groups, attempt to assist entrepreneurs by providing education, allowing for the development of industry contacts, and even offering moral support. An entrepreneurial network may be a local organization, an occupation-specific group, or even an Internet-based networking society.
One of the biggest challenges facing entrepreneurs is a lack of contacts and word of mouth communication about their businesses. By joining an entrepreneurial network, a business owner may be able to get the word out about his or her company simply by showing up to meetings and getting to know other professionals in the field. This can be a good way to make friends within an industry, or even create partnerships through complementary business skills. Working together, entrepreneurs can pool their resources to make one another stronger.
An entrepreneurial network may sometimes try to support new business owners by providing opportunities for continuing business education. These offerings may take the form of lectures, seminars, or motivational speeches by successful industry professionals. Classes may cover a wide range of topics, from accounting and business planning, to marketing and branding. Educational opportunities through an entrepreneurial network not only allow business owners to improve their skills, but can also provide chances to meet other professionals in the same field.
Some entrepreneurial networks are location-based, meaning that they are open to all entrepreneurs within an given geographical area. These networks often focus on community building and local improvement through entrepreneurship, and can be a great chance for business owners to meet one another and form useful partnerships and friendships. Local entrepreneurial groups can be a good way for a new business owner to meet the big players in the local business scenes, and may allow local investors to identify up-and-coming owners.
An occupation-specific entrepreneurial network can be an excellent way for business owners to focus only on the topics and people in their industry. Lawyers or doctors operating private practices, for instance, may be able to use an occupation-specific group to build a list of referrals or even expand into partnerships that can offer a wider variety of services. Lectures and classes offered by these types of networks may be very useful, since they focus on issues pertaining to a single industry.
The Internet has ushered in a new era of business opportunities for entrepreneurs, one not limited by geography. An Internet entrepreneurial network can help professionals from all over the world connect with one another, as well as providing a great portal for job opportunities. An entrepreneur can post a profile of him or herself and the business through an online network, and may be able to put out specific calls for contacts in certain areas or with particular skills and interests. While the competition for contacts may be greater in this type of entrepreneurial network, the opportunities for creating a truly extensive list of contacts and partners may be tremendous.