Looking for a new entrepreneur network? Here are 10 to explore


For the new entrepreneur, networking is as important as being armed with the latest and greatest apps and SaaS.

You can think of your new entrepreneur network as the oil that makes your startup machine run smoothly. Without this networking oil, there’s a good chance that friction will wear you and your team down very quickly.

StartupGrind. In many ways, this is the most “networky” of the networks. Like-minded leaders of startups meet over coffee in some 200 cities around the world. Check for a chapter near you, and if you don’t find one, start one. The group also holds a yearly global conference.

Entrepreneurs’ Organization. This membership (12,000 and counting) group has 160 chapters spread out over 50 countries. It holds chapter events, facilitates mentorship connections, offers learning programs, and more. However, it’s not for everyone: “Members of EO must be the owner, founder or majority stakeholder of a business earning a minimum of US$1 million in the most recent fiscal year. Venture-backed companies must have either privately-raised funds of at least US$2 million or publicly-raised funds of US$5 million, and a minimum of 10 employees.”

The Entrepreneurs’ Club. This is not a membership organization. TEC holds events around the world that feature some of the biggest names in entrepreneurship. Attend one of its events and you’ll be rewarded with opportunities to do some serious networking.

PartnerUp. This used to be a “stand-alone” organization, but that has folded and given way to a Google+ community. Explore the community and you’ll find individuals looking for partners, funding, and other essentials for the growth and establishment of a new enterprise.

StartupNation. This is basically a no-frills social media and content platform. You will find some good information and conversations on its community forum. I think the “Like-Minded People” topic is excellent, featuring groups such as “Homepreneurs” and “Boomers Back in Business.”

YPO. This moves away from the idea of a new entrepreneur network a bit, but it’s worth mentioning. YPO members must employ at least 50 regular full-time employees or have at least 15 or more employees with a payroll above $2 million. You also need to be youngish – under 45 years old. The group is dedicated to lifelong learning and the exchange of ideas.

USASBE. The mission of The United States Association of Small Business and Entrepreneurship is “to provide the network to advance knowledge and foster business development through entrepreneurship education and research.” It holds one major yearly event and have various teaching resources (including certificate programs) available for members. Membership is open to everyone. There are a variety of Special Interest Groups (SIGs) that you can leverage for networking.

VISTAGE. If you’re the CEO of a company, this membership group could be for you. It facilitates groups to provide training and coaching with the goal of helping innovative executives “solve difficult challenges, evaluate opportunities, and develop effective strategies for better professional and business performance.”

FoundersCard. Networking and “member benefits” are the focus here. Like the name says, a major part of this is the “card” – an upscale charge card that offers some fairly competitive travel and shopping benefits. On the networking side, they schedule frequent events in the United States and abroad.

YEC. To qualify for membership, you need to be a founder or owner 40 years old or younger with a startup producing typically a minimum of $1 million annual revenue or that much in financing. Further, your business needs to have an operation in North America. Members have access to support forums, webinars, events, and travel discounts. Another big feature is the group’s ability to get media exposure for its members.

Finally, not every profitable new entrepreneur network is expressly founded with the new entrepreneur in mind. For example, many budding entrepreneurs have found that joining a local branch of the Toastmasters has been helpful. You can make good connections and also sharpen one of your most useful skills: public speaking.

In the same way, local groups and virtual groups, such as Chambers of Commerce and local LinkedIn business groups can be great for building your new entrepreneur network.