Whether on social media or in real life, networking is a valuable way to build up a business. For social entrepreneurs, it serves as a useful tool for them to develop their knowledge, build relationships, share ideas and create greater impact.
Networking is important for any business, but it is particularly crucial for social entrepreneurs to ensure they build connections so that their social enterprise can grow and ultimately prosper. While some may struggle with the idea of networking, a strong professional network brings three key benefits:
- It raises your profile
Taking part in business and social events, including exhibitions and conferences, is an excellent way to increase the visibility of your enterprise and ensure your name (and that of your initiative) are remembered.
- It helps you make connections
Networking is vital for establishing a strong foundation of connections, which may otherwise not be accessible. A set of highly influential contacts is an great resource for creating a truly successful social enterprise and can be explored when needed.
- It generates opportunities
The opportunities that arise through networking are endless. Establishing connections with like-minded people increases the likelihood of joint ventures, partnerships, client leads and referrals, supply and distribution contacts, speaking opportunities and so on.
Essentially, a strong network can help social entrepreneurs find solutions to any issues they may have, attain their goals and help fulfill their purpose in a way that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. Nowadays, there are more networking channels than ever, whether it is online or in real-world scenarios.
On and offline
The Global Entrepreneurship Summit and the Skoll World Forum are two examples of international events that provide unparalleled opportunities for social innovators and entrepreneurs to connect with key thought leaders, investors and strategic partners.
Online, social media networks such as LinkedIn or Facebook provide a free and easy tool to become part of – and collaborate with – social enterprising communities. There are also many peer networks created specifically to support social impact leaders, providing insights and resources for social good:
- Tendrel: a global organisation for social impact leaders, whose personal and professional growth is driven by peer support and collaboration.
- Ashoka: a community of changemakers that identifies and supports social entrepreneurs, mobilising a global community to transform institutions and cultures through collaboration.
- Global Social Entrepreneurship Network: a global network for organisations supporting early stage social entrepreneurs, whose mission is to build a more impactful social entrepreneurship ecosystem.
Other useful social networks and communities devised for social entrepreneurs include the RSA, SIX, SuNSE, the Social Entrepreneur Empowerment Network and the Social Entrepreneurship Meetup Group.
Multi-stakeholder partnerships like TRANSFORM leverage the world-class capabilities, resources and reach of international partners to support social entrepreneurs and find sustainable solutions to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).