My purpose in life is to Connect, Inspire & Empower Community. Love Entrepreneurship and Coffee Lunch Coffee style networking. Founder and Master Networker of CoffeeLunchCoffee.com. Loving wife and mama. Self-proclaimed foodie.
Three ideas: 1) Post it to LinkedIn -- you will probably get more than 500 responses. 2) Work with your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) -- In a "fish with there the fish are" sort of approach, you can expect SBDCs to have connections with many small business owners and entrepreneurs -- they offer free advisory services to such individuals and can put you in contact with them for your survey. 3) Check out www.1MillionCups.com. This is a weekly program held in more than 50 cities across the country -- each week, in each city, two entrepreneurs present their company (usually startups and young firms) overview in 6 minutes or less, followed by about 20 minutes of Q&A from the audience. This is another place to connect with a lot of entrepreneurs very quickly. Good luck!
Thanks for your question. This line of thinking often comes up when talking about connections between junior employees and more senior employees within one company, between community members and those deemed as icons in the area, between people for whom there is a significant age gap. What I have found is irrespective of your title or your position or your status in the community or your age, you ALWAYS have something of value to offer. For starters, think about what you can provide to the person with whom you seek a connection.
By way of example, I often share with young people that their technology and/or social media prowess is likely to be far greater than that of more senior people in their companies or by older members of their communities. As such, they have that expertise to offer in return.
Another example is for very senior leaders in an organization, they are often disconnected from the realities that plague their customer base – a more junior person can offer better insight into what is really going on out there on the street.
In terms of who do I decide to connect with when others reach out to me, my general approach is always to say, “Yes!” to connecting. That said, if I receive a request to connect via LinkedIn but the requester does not tell me how we know one another, why we should connect or what mutual value we can provide to one another, I do not accept the invitation.
When I am the one doing the asking, whether it is to a person of great influence or otherwise, I always seek a mutual connection. If our mutual connection is willing to make an introduction, half the battle is already won! Even if our mutual connection is willing to let me use his/her name when I reach out to the person of influence, that individual is much more likely to accept my invitation if he/she knows we have someone/something/some place in common.
I welcome your additional thoughts.
This is an important question that I am often asked as my clients prepare to make the most of their time at large events. Remember, your primary purpose for attending is to establish meaningful connections. Sure, you might hear and exciting speaker or two, but the most important reason to go is to connect with others with whom you can exchange "value." To make the most of your time there, be sure to do some pre-conference prep and outreach. Find out who is going to be there -- everyone from speakers to attendees to vendors to organizers. Research them and connect in advance to express your interest in meeting them at the event. And, once you are on the scene -- be present. Engage, ask questions, stay focused on the person or group with whom you are interacting at the moment. Your attentive curiosity will help to forge the relationship. For more details, check out http://www.coffeelunchcoffee.com/2013/04/i-need-your-help-2/. Happy to discuss further, as necessary. Good luck!