Everyone’s world revolves on an axis of networks. In business, government, or academia, those networks scale much larger but in the end, most human endeavour centers around well established networks of trusted friends, colleagues, associates, and contacts. If you need a babysitter, chances are you call one the teenage child of a friend. When deciding on a restaurant to take our families to, we rely on the recommendations of friends and associates. When seeking essential service providers like a doctor, lawyer, or accountant, we tend to ask our contacts about their personal experiences. Beyond recommendation websites like Yelp or local search engines like Google, humans rely on the wisdom, experience, and assistance of others in many facets of our lives.

Building one’s networks is often a difficult challenge. Much like high school or university friendships, one’s business networks will serve to define one’s character, access to opportunities, and overall resourcefulness, likely for the rest of one’s business career. Choosing to network with the right people can propel a business venture forward while choosing poorly can inhibit and sometimes even strangle a business. Learning to see behind the curtain to assess the competence and intentions of associates is one of the strongest and most important skills entrepreneurs must learn over time. Before peering into the soul of a new business associate however, one needs to figure out who those potential new associates are and where to find them.

For clients of diverse and busy business centres such as Telsec, networking among different and often complementary businesses can be as simple as stepping into one of the fully stocked kitchens to refresh your coffee. A quick Google search for Telsec’s downtown Toronto business address, 1 Yonge Street suite 1801, revealed over 324,000 results. That doesn’t mean there are over a quarter million businesses associated with Telsec but it does demonstrate an enormous number of business pages on the Internet are somehow associated with ventures that are somehow associated with our business centre. Telsec hosts quarterly networking events, mixers to which all Telsec office space, virtual office, training room, coworking desks, and other business service clients are invited. Many entrepreneurs find synergies between their businesses at these events. Our clients all have at least one thing in common to talk about and given the close proximity many of them work in, it rarely takes long to break the ice for strong and interesting conversations to form.

Other business persons have to work a bit harder to find networking opportunities and, beyond industry associations, most have turned to the Internet. Meetup.com is an extraordinary resource available in most North American cities and growing into many other cities around the world. Meetup.com’s basic service provides a platform for networkers from any industry or sector to plan, discuss, and promote networking events. Budding entrepreneurs would be wise to sign-up, fill out their profile as thoroughly as possible, and to take advantage of the countless events taking place in and around their cities. Even in an open and friendly city like Toronto, finding affinities and building networks of associates can be quite challenging.

Another way to get out and meet new partners or potential clients is to take part in informal gatherings, much more formal industry trade-shows and conventions, and other events that tend to take place on a regular, scheduled basis. Getting to know others in your sector and being considered a trusted expert among your peers does wonders to build the foundation and shore up the framing of the structure of your business.

No matter how you grow your personal friendships and professional associations, those networks are going to play a large role in determining the trajectory of your business. Networking and building connections by cultivating contacts is a critical part of all business and entrepreneurial experiences. In the end, it’s a numbers game. The more you make contact, the larger and stronger your networks grow. In some cases, the scope and quality of your networks could be the difference between surviving through lean times and succeeding in better circumstances.