Q. What websites and social networks have provided you with the best peer-to-mentoring as a young entrepreneur?
Richard B., Brooklyn, NYThe following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC). Founded by Scott Gerber, the YEC is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment and provides its members with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of a business’s development and growth.
A. Use Facebook to Extend Real-Life Relationships
I use Facebook to keep in touch with peer mentors that I meet in person. Nothing beats a face-to-face connection, but it can be hard to keep that connection alive with friends that live all over the globe. Everyone is on facebook, it’s simple to use, and it’s fun. Meet mentors in person then use Facebook to keep the flame alive.
A. Take the Brazen Route
My best peer mentoring has come from a site called Brazen Careerist. Although the site is more focused on Gen Y folks who are career oriented, it has been one of the best places for me to find answers to lingering questions on various subjects. What really blew me away was the speed at which the responses came. The site is very committed to helping its members be successful.
A. Use Quora for Thoughtful Questions and Answers
Many social networks can add value to aspiring young entrepreneurs, but some are better for feedback and mentoring. One of these sites is Quora.com. Quora is a collection of questions and answers created, edited and organized by its users — many of whom have honest, mature and intelligent advice to share. It’s a supportive, brainstorming community of like-minded entrepreneurs. Check it out.
Surprisingly, just having an About.Me profile has yielded me the most contacts and friend requests than any other online source. I don’t do anything proactive to network within About.Me, but others find me and reach out to me daily hoping to do business with me. I don’t know how they are finding me but these are great contacts that have led to some great opportunities.
A. Email — The Original Social Network
From the time I started working for myself, I’ve sent emails constantly. I’ve reached out to a wide variety of people that I knew I could learn from — and I’ve gotten a lot more responses than I ever expected. There’s a new social network every day, but email isn’t going anywhere.
A. Use Twitter to Network, Converse and Build Relationships
Twitter has, by far, been my most valuable social networking tool for creating relationships with peers, contemporaries and mentors — many of whom have become close friends and business partners. Twitter’s genius is in the low barrier to connection: simple, short, unintrusive. You can connect with mentors, strike up friendly conversation or just ask for help.
Under30CEO.com features informative business articles and fantastic interviews with high level entrepreneurs. Most of all, I get great value from the NYC networking events coordinated by Under30CEO, which gather all types of young entrepreneurs and encourages them to connect in an informal manner.
A. Visit and Participate in Blogs About Your Industry
It’s easy to look to Twitter or Facebook for your social networking, but blogging and commenting on blogs is just as much of a social network. Once you become active as a commentor in a circle of related blogs, you become familiar and can turn this into real relationships with the bloggers and peers in that group.
WeMedia is a great organization which combines online networking, physical conferences and start-up cash for entrepreneurs. They have tons of great tips on their website, speakers at their conferences and tangible advice from their staff on how to build your business. Many websites/networks are very hands off, but WeMedia takes a more hands on approach with resources, guidance and capital.
A. 85 Broads
85 Broads is a great community that connects and empowers women to help each other succeed. The mission of this organization is to generate professional and social value for its members. It offers workshops for members featuring industry experts and connects women in more than 90 countries around the world.
The Young Entrepreneur website has a great blog section which contains information to help young entrepreneurs who are just starting out. They also have a very active forum section where young entrepreneurs ask and answer each other’s questions. The best part of their website is the “Ask an Expert” section where you can ask a question to be answered by their successful panel of experts.