Entrepreneurs must bring significant intelligence, passion, creativity, and vision to the table. Without these qualities, their businesses would never get off the ground. As important as all that is, those same entrepreneurs rely on the power of networking to facilitate key connections. Chris Anderson explains how all the intellectual horsepower in the world still will not cut it if we do not have significant, and often serendipitous, encounters with key people (“The Shared Genius of Elon Musk and Steve Jobs” Fortune, December 9, 2013, pp. 98–108):
“Even with all the right mental attributes, the first big success requires some luck. You have to be in the right place at the right time. Without that, you may have no opportunity to hit the second rung on the ladder. All the more reason we should look out for those attributes in upcoming entrepreneurs and do all we can to support them.” (p. 108)
Innovative ideas alone will not carry the freight. The visionary must have connections with the right people. “The right people,” means many things: the chemistry is right, we have a complementary relationship, synergy occurs, and we have a shared vision.
Some of these qualities are difficult to predict or control. That underscores the need for networking. Networking opens the door to new and unexpected relationships. Just as much as some of those relationships may take you nowhere significant, some might just change the world.
I love talking with entrepreneurs. Many opportunities exist to do exactly that. Whether it is the Kansas City Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s 1 Million Cups meetings that are sweeping across the country, a business networking meeting, interfacing with members of a startup team, or just chewing the fat with an impassioned person who plans to change the world, all these events are marvelous opportunities to hear the heartbeat of the entrepreneur.
I am thankful for all these opportunities, and I look forward to many more. You never know when one of them will put a person in the right place at the right time. And that is always good for business.