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Start-up business owners often learn the most valuable business lessons from other entrepreneurs at the same point in their businesses' development. Learn how you can promote client networking in your program.

Who you know really can make a difference

by Jim Phillips

February 2008

At a networking picnic for biotechnology firms sponsored by the Sid Martin Biotechnology Development Incubator in Alachua, Fla., incubator manager Patti Breedlove chatted with a local business editor who was having trouble finding a subject to profile in a newspaper column.

“There was a new CEO … with one of our companies, and I said, ‘He’d be a really interesting profile.’ So I dragged him over,” Breedlove recalls. “The whole front cover of the business section was about him the next week.”

That’s the kind of thing that happens when people network. And it’s why fostering client networking has graduated from a good idea to an indispensable service in the world of business incubation.

Incubator networking activities like these are on the rise. In the 2002 State of the Business Incubation Industry report, about 80 percent of incubators reported that their client services included providing networking opportunities. By the 2006 edition, that figure had risen to 96 percent.

But if networking is something nearly everyone promotes, the ways incubators try to make it happen, and the benefits they see from it, vary in important ways.

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Keywords: practices, in-house loan and equity financing program

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