“Succeeding in business is all about making connections,” advises Sir Richard Branson, founder of the international conglomerate Virgin Group. Successful networking and finding supportive mentors plays an important role in an entrepreneur’s overall success, which is something that everyone at Endeavor has been thinking about during our 60th International Selection Panel in San Francisco last week.
While there is consensus that developed networks are beneficial to businesses, it is unclear if networking can be taught. A new working paper from the Danish Research Unit for Industrial Dynamics by Annalisa Caloffi, Federica Rossi, and Margherita Russo assesses whether or not entrepreneurs can be taught to network. The paper, which focuses on entrepreneurs in Italy, looks at different programs that teach networking and the number of relationships created after the programs’ completion.
While governments have tried countless policies and programs to improve R&D, transfer of knowledge, and diffuse innovation, it is unclear which policies help to build successful entrepreneurship ecosystems. Which policy interventions most improve participants’ ability to build networks? The study found that:
- Entrepreneurs best build their networks when they are part of a community committed to the promotion of entrepreneurship and innovation.
- It is hardest to build networks in places where there is a high amount of diversity of business and groups of people.
- Entrepreneurs made the most connections in programs that led to involvement in centers for innovation and relationships with specific organizations.
So can entrepreneurs be taught to network? The study concluded that programs that integrate entrepreneurs within communities committed to entrepreneurship and innovation create more connections than stand alone programs.
To read the full working paper, please click here.
Contributed by Emily Luepker