Add entrepreneurial education opportunities to your current networking activities

As executive director for the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence, I lead an organization that works with family business leaders at all levels. Many of the businesses in our network stay active through local networking events with chambers of commerce, participation with industry associations and conferences, and community involvement. As a business owner myself, I know these serve a specific purpose that is essential. However, there’s often a gap in what they provide. Due to their narrower focus, these programs don’t generally provide a wider educational lens in entrepreneurship that is important to scaling businesses for growth.

Learning from internationally recognized, practicing subject matter experts on key business topics is not only valuable on its own but also complements all your other business-supporting activities. In my role, I regularly see the actionable benefits that educational trainings generate for business owners and leaders. Of the various features that these trainings offer, a few of the top-line differentiators include:

Broader perspectives

Branching out from local or industry-specific events provides exposure to topics you haven’t encountered and allows you to make new conceptual connections that lead to new opportunities to innovate. Sometimes what you learn is immediately applicable, sometimes it’s not, but no matter what, you’ll be better prepared when the time comes.

Fresh voices

You’re constantly in the family business: focused on clients, dealing with vendors and managing employees on a daily basis. That’s why it’s important to hear from a different voice — one that can provide a chance to step out of the weeds and realign your focus with research-supported, data-driven, real-world applied and practiced training.

Business from another leader’s shoes

Certain topics that may not seem entirely relevant can hold tremendous value. At almost every educational event we have I hear some form of, “I didn’t think I’d be interested in this one, but I got so many takeaways!” It might be a view into the issues that their customers are facing, or learning about issues that leaders at different firms are dealing with that haven’t reached their shores … yet. These different topic areas that allow business leaders to gain the ability to strategize, prioritize, and emphasize ahead of schedule, or from a new perspective, can be immensely valuable.

Knowledge is power, but especially when it’s backed by drive, skills and proper support.

Seeking outside entrepreneurial educational events harnesses your talents and puts you in the room to activate greater opportunities. I’ve witnessed business relationships and strategic alliances come together because the partner that could fill a business need was right across the room. Putting yourself out there in that right situation can expand both your acumen and your business prospects in amazing ways.

We’re fortunate to live and work in a region that is very interconnected and offers a wide array of opportunities to learn and grow. In business, taking advantage of the right opportunities is everything. Don’t let the opportunity to expand your educational involvement slip by. ●

Bob Stein is Associate Vice Chancellor for Innovation & Entrepreneurship at University of Pittsburgh

Bob Stein

Associate Vice Chancellor, Innovation & Entrepreneurship
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