When I attended an event held at the Colorado State University's Institute for Entrepreneurship, opens a new window in Fort Collins, Rachel Roberts, the Assistant Director, said,
"A successful startup community needs 3 things:
A program that allows business owners to network and support one another,
A library with business services and
As I reflected on the library systems where I've worked in business services, I've seen first-hand how these 3 elements mix to create a vibrant, diverse startup community. Personally, I believe Arapahoe County is on its way and our proximity to Denver provides easy access to any missing elements.
Why Build Your Network
Business owners and entrepreneurs are busy, and so I can understand that networking might seem like a "nice to have" rather than a need. But I'd argue that it's an absolute necessity. Here are the 3 best reasons:
- Fellow business owners have experience with the same or similar challenges and will likely provide wisdom for free. Whereas a business consultant is not cheap and will charge per hour to give advice. For example, when I worked at the Loveland Public Library, I attended a monthly marketing meet-up where business owners, including marketing professionals, shared advice and ideas.
- There are many unexpected challenges in life, and fellow business owners support one another during these times. Throughout the pandemic, I've seen many business owners sharing the latest grant information with one another and tips on how to apply.
- Lastly, many business owners find new clients through networking, either fellow business owners or people they refer. While at Denver Public Library, I was a member of a leads group as part of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, and I received great advice and lots of help from my fellow business owners.
Where to Network
In Arapahoe County, there are several organizations that plan networking events throughout the year, including:
- Alternative Business Networking Group (ABNG), opens a new window
- Aurora Chamber of Commerce, opens a new window
- Denver South, opens a new window
- Englewood Chamber of Commerce, opens a new window
- I-70 Corridor Chamber of Commerce , opens a new window
- South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce, opens a new window
In my role as Business Librarian, I've had great experiences at events hosted by each of these organizations, so depending on who you want to meet and where your business is located, one of these will likely be a good fit. If you're not sure, I'd be happy to talk with you about these and other organizations outside the county. To request a session, please make a Business Help Appointment, opens a new window.
Lastly, Denver Startup Week, opens a new window is in September every year, and that week is the Super Bowl of business networking! Over the course of the week there are many different sessions and networking events, and attendees pick and choose based on their interests and who they want to meet.
Introvert or Not Thrilled About Crowds?
Trust me, I understand. I'm an introvert and was often the wall flower at parties (or even better, the one washing dishes in the kitchen). Here are a few tips:
- Bring a friend to the event. Often there's free food, so it won't be too hard to convince them to join you.
- When trying to determine who to approach at an event, go toward groups of 3 or more. Groups with 2 people might be in a deeper or more personal conversation.
- Find one of the group leaders and ask them to introduce you to a few people who would be good for you to meet. They want you to attend regularly, so they'll likely be happy to help.
Library Business Services and Mentoring
If you're thinking, what about the other 2 items on that list?! Here are resources to learn more about each of them:
- Business Services at Arapahoe Libraries – Read about what we offer and how to get help at the Business Help, opens a new window web page.
- Mentoring – I wrote a blog about mentoring opportunities in the area, Free Consulting and Mentoring for Your Small Business.