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Millennial entrepreneurship strategy: Networking laterally

by Justin Key

What are Millennial entrepreneurs and professionals doing to cultivate their brands, grow their businesses and truly advance the culture? They are starting businesses with their classmates and friends, spreading the wealth of knowledge they receive to the masses through innovative technology and ensuring that diversity and inclusion are more than just a catchy phrase on their websites.

Networking is the key to building relationships with new connects.  The only way to establish your brand is to connect and sell yourself to others.   

Brian Wong references in an interview with Issa Rae, who is an “actress, writer, director and producer of the HBO hit show Insecure. According to the NewsOne interview,  Rae says instead of trying to network with people who are miles ahead of you in your career, consider: “Who’s next to you? Who’s struggling? Who’s in the trenches with you? Who’s just as hungry as you are? And those are the people that you need to build with.”

As Millennials find their place in society, most are choosing entrepreneurship as a pathway instead of traditional jobs in corporate America.

“Millennials are anyone born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 23 to 38 in 2019),” according to the Pew Research Center.  And, they are going a step further to define how far they go and with whom, especially as entrepreneurs.

This generation has received a lot of criticism from previous generations as being lazy and entitled, and it understands that pressure is needed to break the glass ceiling. Working smarter, not harder is the New Motto. Entrepreneurship has been the saving grace for a lot of Millennials. Creating companies where they are the boss, paying employees top range salaries and always having a social impact component to their work. Who better to understand the plight and dreams of Millennials than other Millennials?

This mindset is said to have been formed by watching Gen X parents complain about the rigidness of the corporate structure, elongated work hours, meager benefits, the low glass ceilings, and the slim pay they experienced. Children watched as their parents came home day after day unhappy, unfulfilled and tired beyond belief. The promise made was that they would not endure the same adulthood as their parents. This is why more Millennials are college educated and become serial entrepreneurs. A better life and future await those who create their own blueprint and have the mindset to know they cannot do it alone.

There are several amazing organizations in the city of Memphis that help cultivate the entrepreneurial spirit of networking. A few are Startup Grind Memphis, Memphis Urban League Young Professionals, Choose901, Leadership Memphis, and New Memphis Institute. To find more groups specializing in entrepreneurship in the city, visit Meet Up. Network, engage and grow!

An African Proverb gave us the foundation for networking: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”  

Justin Key is a contributing writer for Memphis Small Business Quarterly. He can be reached at

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