Cast your mind back to high school for a second. Remember how the people you hung out with usually influenced your grades, your opinions and expectations? Well, we grow up and realize that the same is true in business; by surrounding yourself with innovation and positivity, you have a much better chance of success. And if you want to be optimally successful, you'll contribute to the growth of the people around you, too.

Surviving and thriving in today's business world isn't about getting "your slice of the pie." It's about realizing that there is enough pie for everyone. So instead of working so hard against each other, entrepreneurs are realizing that there is strength in numbers and that the future is becoming increasingly collaborative.

Putting Yourself Out There

The power of strength in numbers is starting to grow momentum and find support in the local business community as well. In 2015, Thumbtack unveiled the results of a nationwide survey that analyzed 18,000 small business owners nationwide.

Respondents discussed key issues, such as local tax laws, the regulatory environment and opportunities for training and networking in their area. It turns out that Birmingham, Alabama, ranked top in the nation for millennial entrepreneurs. Dubbed the "Magic City" for its rapid growth during the steel industry boom, Birmingham has become something of a magical incubator for new businesses today.

Recently, established local business, Royal Cup Coffee and Tea collaborated with REV Birmingham, an organization dedicated to business growth to host their first ever S.I.P. (Sharing Inspiring People) event in a local brewery in downtown Birmingham. The event brought together over 250 entrepreneurs, connecting Birmingham's startups and small businesses with larger enterprises and potential investors.

In a social environment, S.I.P united business thought leaders with burgeoning local entrepreneurs, creating opportunities all round. Demonstrating the power of knowledge-sharing and connectivity at work. One local startup, Naughty But Nice Kettle Corn Co., was able to get their product in front of BAM! (Books-A-Million), the second-largest bookstore chain in the United States. Through the S.I.P. event, they struck a deal to launch a test-run of their kettle corn in local BAM! locations - illustrating how much can get done when we make a conscious choice to grow our network.

And as Deon Gordon, Director of Business Growth at REV Birmingham notes: "It shows the power of collaboration and knowledge-sharing between today's entrepreneurs and the innovators of tomorrow."

If you're looking to grow your network - look for events in your area that might attract synergistic attendees. If there aren't any events in your area, think about starting a "Meetup" for entrepreneurs and small business owners. Start small and build. Aligning with even 2 or 3 great contacts can significantly help impact your business.

Identifying and Growing Your "Tribe"

The concept of getting a helping hand on your way up is nothing new; few people can claim 100 percent credit for their own successes. Growing a network is a nurturing process that is, first and foremost, all about adding value to others - bouncing ideas around, sharing information, contacts, and experience. When you invest in others, they invest in you - and that's how solid networks are built.

All over the world, entrepreneurs are creating communities of like-minded people, who may be within the same industry. Not only is it non-threatening, but it's actually proving to be one of the best ways to grow their businesses. For example, Mastermind founder, Ben Simkin, offers a lead generation system whereby participants learn how to implement crucial growth strategies into their businesses.

Having grossed over a billion dollars of sales for himself and his clients, Simkin can't stress the importance of building a network enough. So when he's planning one of his events, he screens participants to ensure they're positive, ethical and willing to help other members.

Simkin says, "We had one girl who wanted to sell her cross-fit product, another member already had done something similar. So he gave her the whole marketing campaign to copy off of. That kind of thing is happening in the group every day."

In the situation of an event - there is a screening process. Treat your own network just like an "event" and be discerning about the people you let into your tribe. You want to make sure you can add value to them and that they can add value to you. It's all downhill the moment things become one sided! Besides, you will be introducing these people to other people in your network, so you want to make sure everyone can benefit. When everyone benefits, they'll naturally want to bring more assets into the network.

Being part of a network and gathering strength in numbers is powerful; working together creates potentially game-changing partnerships and opportunities for up-and-coming entrepreneurs. So, if you've been trying to do this all on your own, it's high time you found your tribe!

Published on: Sep 14, 2016