Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Tip #214: Build a Support Network

As a small business owner, it is easy to find yourself feeling isolated and even depressed, especially during the holidays. In fact, this is a common sentiment amongst entrepreneurs. It can be comforting and beneficial to have a strong network of  like-minded individuals who understand your day-to-day challenges.

Every professional knows building a network is important. If your eyes are already starting to gloss over because a) you don’t have time, b) you don’t know where to start, c) you find networking to be intimidating, or d) all of the above, it’s time to perk up! We’ve identified 4 ways to build your network, plus, ways RCI can help!

  1. Seek out a mentor
A great mentor can offer guidance and support through the wisdom that comes with experience. There’s a good chance with any challenge you may be facing, they’ve lived  it and can share what they’ve learned from both their mistakes and successes. Look for experienced leaders that you admire and respect through your local community or your industry.

RCI’s People to People Network is a great resource for identifying members within the same industry, who have voluntarily offered to share their knowledge with other RCI members. Within the People to People Network we have identified potential mentors, as well as their areas of expertise, including industry subjects such as tempering, equipment, formulations, facility design and more, as well as broader business topics like marketing, accounting, ecommerce, succession planning, etc. Sign in at retailconfectioners.org and find the People to People Network under the Member Resources tab.

  1. Attend social events
Of course, seeing what your local Chamber of Commerce or other local professional organizations have on the calendar is an option. If you’re looking for a group with more specialized interests, check out Meetup.com to find like-minded individuals gathering near you.

Providing opportunities to connect with fellow confectioners and industry suppliers is one of the pillars of RCI. As an international association, you can expect RCI to host a number of events for members and non-members across the US and abroad each year, offering fun and engaging ways to build relationships and share ideas. Visit retailconfectioners.org/events or follow us on Facebook to keep up on the latest events.

  1. Volunteer
As the saying goes, “you have to give to get.” You’d be surprised how quickly and effortlessly your network can grow when you volunteer.

Even if you’re already involved in a networking association, it can be awkward and intimidating to put yourself out there. By volunteering, making connections may come more naturally to you if you’re working with others on a specific task or project.

  1. Share your advice and experience
Even the busiest of us can manage to make time to post to their favorite social network now and then. A few minutes is all you need to join the conversation happening on RCI’s online forum, List Serve. Respond to inquiries and share your own quandaries in your pajamas, if you wish! Participate in troubleshooting topics ranging from chocolate production, marketing and business ownership and build your network in the process. Sign in at retailconfectioners.org and find List Serve under the Member Resources tab.

Stay connected with RCI through Facebook for more tips and inspiration dedicated to the retail candy maker. Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

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