Network power

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Ask business leaders the secret of their success and one consistent answer is networking. Sharing ideas among your peers is a powerful tool in your business arsenal, and one that should be practiced often.

Each year, the Entrepreneurship Institute, a Columbus-based nonprofit dedicated to helping executive decision-makers become better leaders, hosts The President’s Forum, a one-day seminar designed to provide direction, answers, contacts and information for presidents and CEOs. SBN has been a member of TEI’s Cleveland Advisory Board for two years.

This year’s forum will be held June 4 at Executive Caterers at Landerhaven and features a kick-off address by Joseph Gorman, chairman emeritus of TRW. Among the other presenters are:

* Ed Kuhn, CEO, Travel Centers of America

* William Conway, chairman, Fairmount Minerals Ltd.

* Terrence Profughi, CEO, HiTechMetal Group

* Dr. Luis Proenza, president, University of Akron

SBN sat down with TEI president Jan Zupnick to discuss the importance of leadership.

“Without strong leadership, the firm has no vision or direction,” he says. “All roads are not paved with success, and the leader must provide the directions and pathways to success.”

How can networking among peer groups enhance an entrepreneur’s ability to run his or her own company?

It’s not only what you know but who you know that really matters when there is an operational or strategic issue confronting the company. Networking among peers who have experience in resolving your issues and knowing those who can be called upon for advice is incredibly important for problem resolution within a reasonable amount of critical time.

Many executives send their employees for furthering education. Why should those same executives consider similar programs — forums, seminars and speakers — for themselves?

No one leader can possibly know all there is to know about the business or the industry or economic factors. There is no other way, unless you wish to experience all the failures yourself, than executive education for the leader to acquire the wisdom of those who know.

At TEI, I have paid careful attention to what our own speakers say. I have learned how to direct my company in a manner I would not have been able to simply by applying myself. I have learned what does work and what doesn’t work, and that’s saved time and money.

What is TEI’s role in all of this?

We handle the entire process of organizing the resources (building the network) and encouraging the company presidents to participate in our forum. The forum is the most efficient way for executives to network and learn in a brief period of time. We handle all speaker recruitment and presentation preparation, program development, facility planning, forum marketing and post-forum follow-up. We also have 20 chapters nationwide and, therefore, coordinate a national resource network of experts dedicated to being available to help business owners grow their firms. How to reach: TEI, (614) 895-1153 or www.tei.net