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September/October 2019

While fall isn’t the traditional start of our fiscal year in business, most of us experience the feeling of starting anew at this time of year. School is back in session, vacations are wrapping up and new clothes are being bought. How do we apply this feeling of a “new start” to our business?


Parents and teachers often start the school year by setting goals, based on what they have accomplished in the past and what they want for their school year. Our teens who took Algebra I last year may be going into Pre-Calculus this year so they can be prepared for the Calculus class that is required for their major they want in college. We can be planning the same way. I encourage you to take a look at your year so far. Some business owners have possibly abandoned their 2019 goals by now. Some have broken through them. The question I ask is, did they share them? I believe having a supporting group of other business owners around you can be crucial to achieving goals. By learning from the experienced, by helping to lead the new, and sometimes just knowing you are not alone in your struggles of building a business all contribute to your success.


This fall, while we are getting out of our vacation modes, while we are setting our youth up to start fresh, let’s do the same. I encourage a restart. Look at what you have accomplished last year, what you have accomplished so far this year, and notice if there is a difference? Are you doomed to repeat history, or are you making a change? Each fall, I see an uptick of business owners networking. Once school has started back and those vacations have subsided, people get back to business.


I recently started working with a fantastic business consultant, Danette Khors, and it was one of the first modules of her program where she lays out a network of people you need to surround yourself with. She calls it your “business team member roster”. These are the connections you need to help you in your business. Of course, I agreed with each on the list being needed. In fact, at Connection Exchange we introduce these various types of industries from her list to the new businesses we welcome into our community as a service. It was perfectly in line with my ideas on having a successful business that can grow. And it got me thinking. Why don’t most business owners network in this way? I am a member of more networking groups than the average business, as “networking” is my business, and I hear so often people asking for “anybody” or saying they can help “everyone.” Of course, that may be slightly true, and these networkers just need a bit of guidance on determining their target market and articulating it. Once they know how to articulate their target market, we get to help each other in finding them.


I find the best way to achieve your goals is by being surrounded by others that encourage you to do so. These people in turn are looking for your encouragement in achieving their goals, and everyone is yoking themselves together to get more done. It’s often said that “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” But you can even take it beyond those five people.


Check out this article that says you are even more than the sum of the 5


Seriously. Go read it online. I’ll wait.


So what does it mean that you are influenced by even your network’s network? Be exclusive when you network? Only go to groups or organizations you can build from? Surround yourself only with the best?




Be that one who raises the bar.


The stronger you are, the more you can help.


It’s not about the five you surround yourself with. It’s not about the extended network they surround themselves with. It’s how you show up and what you make it mean when you interact with someone.
I used to define my success only by how much I can help others become successful. In 2018, I decided that probably wasn’t the best. Sure others were getting pushed over the ramp, but I was still sitting at the bottom. I found the stronger YOU are, the more you can help.


This applies to networking in every aspect. This is where we can set new goals for a new “school year” of networking. Let’s look at the groups, the organizations we belong to and find where we can build relationships. Be careful not to mistake my words as build friendships. Yes, friendships will come. That’s one of my favorite side benefits of networking. But it’s not the point. I think we all will mostly agree, the point is to grow your business. Networking, after all, for most, is a portion of the marketing of your business.


The history of networking has been “here’s my card.” We know that didn’t work. We do business with people whom we know, like and trust. I see a lot of networkers breaking past that “here’s my card” mentality. I say fantastic!! Let’s get to know each other, get to like each other, build that trust. The problem I see with many who reroute their networking in this way is they build friendships, but not their business. What I propose is we can build genuine, authentic, mutually beneficial business relationships. And we can only do that by first setting a goal to get to know ourselves, like ourselves and trust ourselves. Let’s put away the cards and learn about ourselves and then we can learn from each other. Find the relationships that will build our relationships. Find the other business owners who think the same and also have the same target market. Think collaboration, not competition. A mindset of competition is just not owning our own confidence anyway. As the amazing master coach and instructor Brooke Castillo says “We have a relationship with ourself first and then the nature of that relationship will determine our relationships with other people.”


If you are ready to refresh those goals and build those authentic relationships, let’s connect. I’m always making new business partners. Find me on LinkedIn, look up Connection Exchange-St Charles County on Facebook or send a Harry Potter owl my way.


Happy Connecting!

Stephanie Hopkins is the Community Connections Director with the St. Charles Branch of Connection Exchange.


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