UMKC Innovation Center partners with the university and the community to spark and sustain entrepreneurial efforts within our region and across the country.

KCSourceLink connects KC entrepreneurs to the right resource at the right time.

MOSourceLink connects Missouri entrepreneurs to the right resource at the right time.

Whiteboard2Boardroom connects entrepreneurs and businesses to technologies available for licensing.

Digital Sandbox KC provides early-stage proof-of-concept support for digital products.

Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Center provides technical assistance to startup and existing businesses.

ScaleUP! Kansas City helps businesses with revenues around $200K scale toward their first $1 million.

Missouri Procurement Technical Assistance Centers helps local businesses obtain government contracts.

KCInvestED helps investors learn more about investing in KC startups.

SourceLink® helps communities nationwide build vibrant and vital entrepreneurial ecosystems.
UMKC Innovation Center
UMKC Innovation Center

Guide: Start a Business  Part Three

Build Your Social Network

A solid social network is the backbone of your business. 

Your social network — your friends, family, former colleagues — is absolutely invaluable to your business. Human capital, those relationships you keep and cultivate, is the largest investment you can make in your business.

Why?

Because, let’s be honest; at the beginning of your venture, you don’t have much else. Most startups don’t yet have customers or capital or traction or even a performance record. So those people in your network — family, friends, former colleagues — will be your first critical feedback as well as your connection to your first coaches, employees, mentors, customers and investors.

How do you build your social network? By networking strategically.

How to network for your business

Anyone can walk in a room and hand out a stack of business cards. Cultivating a true network will help you grow your business, so you have to be intentional about the relationships you build because we do business with people, not business cards. Be a person people want to know.

  • Before you enter any networking event, ask yourself who are the three people you really need to connect with — and what can you do for those people as well?
  • Practice your why. Have a 30-second and 1-minute description of who you are and the value you bring to your customers. It’s not about what you do; it’s about why you do it.
  • Be ready to share. Networking is about being generous with your time, information and resources. Come equipped with a valuable piece of information — maybe your favorite restaurant, movie, book, handyman.
  • Bring better questions into your conversations that help build a connection. You could ask, “What do you do?” Or you could ask a more memorable question, like “what’s your story?” or “what’s your favorite app?”
  • Open your network. Look for opportunities to introduce a fellow entrepreneur to someone who can help them.

Opportunities for networking and practicing your elevator pitch

Find an event

Go beyond the usual networking events. Attend a Startup Weekend, set up shop at a coworking space or find a new networking event near you. (That last link will take you to our business calendar, chock full of networking events across Missouri. Follow that link and then you can filter by your location or distance.)

Stay in the know

Want to always know what’s going on in Kansas City entrepreneurship and where you should be? Get a curated list of key events in the metro and inspirational entrepreneurial stories that’ll help your business. It’s all here in our newsletter.

Get an introduction

Not sure whom you need to know? Ask our Resource Navigators about your next introductions.

Not sure where to start? Get your (free) Personal Action Plan

Call us at 816-235-6500 or tell us a bit about what you need, and we’ll craft your very own (totally doable) personal action plan that’ll show you exactly whom in Kansas City you can contact to move your business or nonprofit forward. All of our services are free.

Networking organizations in Kansas City you should know

These Resource Partners offer courses, events, training to help you up your social game and build your professional network. Head over to The Resource Navigator to further filter your search by business industry, ZIP/city/distance and/or specific need—or just give us a call at 816-235-6500, and we’ll make your Personal Action Plan of next-step resources (for free).

Provider Information

1 Million Cups

A Kauffman Labs program striving to engage entrepreneurs through a weekly educational and networking program.

Asian American Chamber of Commerce of Kansas City

The Asian American Chamber of Commerce of Kansas City was formed in 1998 as a non-profit organization to enhance the economic opportunities for Asian American businesses through education, networking, and advocacy while promoting community engagement and visibility.

Basehor Chamber of Commerce

The mission of the chamber is to advance the general welfare, prosperity and positive business environment of the Basehor business area.

Belton, MO Chamber of Commerce

The object of the Belton Chamber of Commerce is to create opportunities for business success through professional development, networking, advocacy and business promotion.

Better Business Bureau of Greater Kansas City

BBB of Greater Kansas City's mission to promote trust in the marketplace has made us a business leader since 1916. BBB sets standards for marketplace trust, celebrates business role models, calls out substandard marketplace behavior, and creates a community of trustworthy businesses and charities.

Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce

The Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce provides business assistance, networking opportunities and other services related to growing businesses in Blue Springs, MO.

Bonner Springs-Edwardsville Area Chamber of Commerce

The Bonner Springs-Edwardsville Chamber of Commerce provides networking opportunities, business referrals and contacts and other services related to growing businesses in the Bonner Springs, Edwardsville, and surrounding area. The BS-EDW Chamber also hosts several community events throughout the year. These include Edwardsville Days Festival, Annual Golf Tournament, Tiblow Days Festival, Community Candidate Forums, and more.

Bridge Space

Bridge Space is the first coworking space and entrepreneur incubator in downtown Lee's Summit. We have private offices, programming to accelerate your business and plenty of space for coworking.

Brookside Business Association

Brookside Business Association promotes economic development, community growth, business retention and attraction in the Brookside area of Kansas City, Mo.

Capital Access Center

The Capital Access Center is a free service to help a business find Capital Resource Partners. The Capital Access Center (CAC), part of the Kansas Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and funded through the 2020 CARES Act, is a consulting service to small business owners needing Capital (Loans, Lines of Credit, etc).

Central Exchange

Central Exchange is a preeminent membership organization in the Kansas City area which provides the venue and voice for women seeking to reach their full personal and professional potential.

Craig School of Business - Center for Entrepreneurship

The Center for Entrepreneurship exists to train, mentor and support entrepreneurs. Our staff will provide one-on-one business coaching and connect clients to needed programs and resources.

Excelsior Springs Area Chamber of Commerce

The Excelsior Springs Chamber of Commerce helps to engage, influence and impact the business community of Excelsior Springs, MO.

Gardner Chamber of Commerce

The Gardner Chamber of Commerce provides business assistance, networking opportunities & other services for businesses operating or wishing to operate in Gardner, Edgerton or New Century, KS.

Gladstone Area Chamber of Commerce

The Gladstone Area Chamber of Commerce mission is to develop our community by being the voice for small businesses.

GO Topeka

GO Topeka creates county-wide economic success for all companies and citizens through implementation of an aggressive economic development strategy that capitalizes on the unique strengths of the community.

Grain Valley Partnership

The Grain Valley Chamber Partnership is dedicated to being the primary advocate for businesses in the Grain Valley area by promoting economic development, providing educational resources and partnering with our members to improve the business environment and community image.

Grandview Chamber & Economic Development Council

The Grandview Chamber exists to serve, protect and promote area business.

Great Plains Technology & Manufacturing Cluster

The Great Plains Technology & Manufacturing Cluster assists manufacturers and technology entrepreneurs in making the critical connections to innovation resources required to protect, develop, launch and grow new products and businesses.

Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce

The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce provides business assistance, networking opportunities, public relations, and other services related to growth and development in the Kansas City Metro Area.

GSA Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU)

The Heartland Regional Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) serves as the Region 6 liaison and advocate for small businesses in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska. As an advocate for small business owners, it is the mission of the OSDBU to promote increased access to GSA's nationwide procurement opportunities.

Heartland Black Chamber of Commerce

Heartland Black Chamber of Commerce (HBCC) is a nonprofit organization, 501(C)(6), that embodies all types of businesses within its membership; minority, women and disadvantaged business entrepreneurs (M/W/DBE), with a primary focus on African-American business.

Independence Economic Development Council

The Independence Council for Economic Development (ICED) acts as a liaison between businesses and government and provides economic research on the Independence area.

InnovateHER KC

InnovateHER KC is a community that connects, empowers, and supports womxn leaders - uniting womxn to accomplish incredible things.

Innovation Stockyard

The Innovation Stockyard operates the Kit Bond Science and Technology Incubator on the campus of Missouri Western State University with a focus on economic and workforce development, and animal health and nutrition.

Inventors Center of Kansas City

ICKC provides education and encouragement to help inventors of all ages bring their ideas to market. We focus attention on ideation, market-sizing, market validation, prototyping, intellectual property protection, benefits visualization, licensing, and manufacturing.

Kansas City Data-Driven Marketing Association (KCDMA)

The Kansas City Data-Driven Marketing Association (KCDMA) provides outstanding programming and networking for marketers who practice direct and digital marketing, including online, social, mobile, direct response and direct mail.

Kansas Department of Agriculture

The mission of the KDA Agricultural Marketing, Advocacy and Outreach Team is to serve all Kansans through innovative programming and delivering solutions designed to create an environment that facilitates growth and expansion in agriculture while increasing pride in and awareness of the state's largest industry - agriculture.

KC Collective

KC Collective was developed by startup founders for startup founders. Through collective collaboration, we leverage our networks to provide introductions, mentorship, generous perks and discounts from our partners, and the education and resources necessary for driving your business forward.

KC Tech Council

The KC Tech Council is a 501c6 non-profit association and serves as the regional advocate for Kansas City's Tech Industry. Comprised of over 130 member companies and sponsors, the organization focuses work on three primary areas - workforce development, industry access, and policy advocacy.

Kearney Chamber of Commerce

The Kearney Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to promoting business and tourism growth in Kearney, Mo.

Leavenworth Main Street Program, Inc. ®

Leavenworth Main Street fosters economic development and historic preservation with downtown Leavenworth, Kansas, the 1st City of Kansas, established 1854.

Leavenworth-Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce

The Leavenworth-Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce aggressively advocates the interests of business before influential policy makers, especially those in local, state and federal government, by focusing on core issues identified by members.

Lee's Summit Chamber of Commerce

We create opportunities for business success through networking and advocacy, as well as business and professional development. We provide leadership by servicing as a catalyst for the economic growth and prosperity of the Lee's Summit community.

Lenexa Chamber of Commerce

The Lenexa Chamber of Commerce is a highly recognized chamber in the region offering business support and networking opportunities in the Lenexa, Kan., area.

Liberty Area Chamber of Commerce

The Liberty Area Chamber of Commerce is the area’s leading non-profit, membership-driven business organization dedicated to creating a climate in which businesses can succeed.

Liberty Economic Development Corporation / LINK Business Facilitation

The Liberty Economic Development Corporation is a public private organization dedicated to the growth and prosperity of the Liberty, Mo area. LINK Business Facilitation is a free resource for small businesses and entrepreneurs in the Liberty area and is for all phases of business; start-up, growth cycles and succession and retirement planning.

Martin City Community Improvement District

The Martin City Community Improvement District (CID) serves as an economic development tool that allows business owners in the District to coordinate public improvement efforts; address safety and security; produce marketing campaigns to attract new businesses and tourism; and create programs that foster recreational and cultural activity as well as special events.

Mountain Plains Minority Supplier Development Council

Mountain Plains Minority Supplier Development Council promotes the growth and development of minority businesses through B-to-B opportunities and government contracts.

Multicultural Business Coalition

The Multicultural Business Coalition is a nonprofit collective of Kansas City based organizations that were created to encourage and support a healthy multicultural business community.

National Association of Women Business Owners

National Association for Women Business Owners (NAWBO) is the only national organization specifically for women business owners that strives to stimulate business and economic opportunity for local, national and international women entrepreneurs.

North Kansas City Business Council

The mission of the North Kansas City Business Council is to be an advocate for business and quality of life in North Kansas City, Missouri. We provide networking, marketing and economic development support for the community. We are also active in supporting and encouraging workforce development and entrepreneurship.

Northeast Johnson County Chamber of Commerce

The NEJC Chamber is a relationship-driven organization dedicated to “helping small business grow” in and around Fairway, Merriam, Mission, Mission Hills, Mission Woods, North Overland Park, Prairie Village, Roeland Park, Westwood and Westwood Hills.

Northeast Kansas City Chamber of Commerce

NEKCCC strives to be a financially sound, well-managed business association that enhances the quality of life and economic competitiveness in the Historic, contemporary and multicultural district of KCMO.

Northland Regional Chamber of Commerce

Mission Statement To enhance the business community, economic growth and quality of life in the Northland. Vision The Northland Regional Chamber of Commerce will serve to: Enhance business opportunities and services for members; Provide a strong and unified voice for the Northland; Promote high quality growth and development; and Lead the development of activities and partnerships among business, government and education.

Olathe Chamber of Commerce

The Olathe Chamber of Commerce provides business assistance, networking opportunities and other services related to growing a business in Olathe, Kan.

Overland Park Chamber of Commerce

The Overland Park Chamber of Commerce works to enhance the business environment and quality of life in the Overland Park, Kan., community. It offers its members programs and services for advocacy, networking, marketing and promotions, and business development.

Overland Park Economic Development Council

The Overland Park Economic Development Council provides demographic, real estate and general business development consulting services to promote business in Overland Park, Kan.

Paola Chamber of Commerce

The Paola (Kan.) Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to community development, encouraging business alliances and nurturing the growth and development of new and existing businesses.

Parkville Area Chamber of Commerce

The Parkville Area Chamber of Commerce provides business assistance, networking opportunities, public relations, and other services related to growth and development in the Parkville Missouri area.

Platte City Area Chamber of Commerce/Economic Development Council

The Platte City Area Chamber of Commerce provides networking opportunities, entrepreneurial support, business retention and expansion services for the Platte City, MO Area.

Raytown Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism

We are a membership-based organization that connects businesses to community, regional, and state resources to help them succeed personally and professionally. From marketing ideas to networking events, we are your one-stop shop.

Raytown Office of Economic Development

The City of Raytown has initiated an aggressive economic development effort emphasizing small business development, business recruitment and business retention. The program provides real estate site selection, incentive attainment and general ombudsman services.

RedTire

Assist businesses in ownership transition, succession planning, business valuation, business sales and acquisitions. Provide guidance and counselling to potential buyers. Equally assist both sides by helping the parties negotiate a fair value to make a win-win deal and complete the purchase transaction. All services are offered free of charge.

Smithville Area Chamber of Commerce

The Smithville Chamber of Commerce provides business assistance, networking opportunities and other services related to growing businesses in Smithville, Mo.

South Kansas City Chamber of Commerce

The South Kansas City Chamber of Commerce provides business assistance, networking opportunities, professional development and other services related to starting or growing a business.

Southtown Council

The Southtown (Mo.) Council strives to facilitate linkages among the stakeholders in Southtown to create an environment for economic development and community growth.

Spring Hill Chamber of Commerce

The Spring Hill Chamber of Commerce works to link business, government and the community in Spring Hill, Kan.

St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce

The St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce provides business assistance, networking opportunities & other services related to growing businesses in St. Joseph, Mo.

The Black MasterMind Group Charitable Foundation

The Black MasterMind Group is designed to create strategies to help the Black Entrepreneurial Community; Start, Stabilize, Sustain, and Scale businesses in the black entrepreneurial community. The Black MasterMind Group works collaboratively with organizations, community leaders, business coaches, trainers, educators, and business leaders, to teach entrepreneurial financial literacy and business strategies helping the black entrepreneurial community secure funding.

The Porter House KC

The Porter House KC is a inner city based co-working community who provides entrepreneurship access and resources to underserved populations in the Kansas City Metro area. Our mission is to be a bridge for underrepresented individuals that typically don't have access to the entrepreneurial dream.

The Toolbox: Small Business Resource Center

The Toolbox is the go-to resource for everything small business in Wyandotte County, Kansas. All of our services are offered at no-cost to local residents and businesses. We provide support with planning, registering, funding, operating, and growing your business. We take the intimidating checklist of starting and operating a business and distill it down into the essentials through private one-on-one small business coaching. We want to make navigating business-related processes in Wyandotte personable, simple and accessible, so you can get back to doing what you do best — creating, innovating, and succeeding in your business.

U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Kansas City District Office

Our mission at the U.S. Small Business Administration is to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns.

Velocity

Our purpose is to provide high quality mentoring, events and leadership services to growth oriented companies, along with networking opportunities for entrepreneurs, to result in positive business activity and facilitate job creation in Lee’s Summit.

Waldo Area Business Association

The Waldo Area Business Association promotes economic development, community growth, business retention and attraction in the Waldo area of Kansas City, Mo.

Weston Chamber of Commerce

The goal of the Weston Chamber of Commerce is to further the economic development for the City of Weston, Mo,. by promoting and assisting the growth and development of business concerns.
>> Remember if you need help, give us a call at 816-235-6500 or tell us a bit about what you need. We can guide you through the next steps you need to take to start your business.

Connect with us!

Get insights, inspiration and events to help you start, grow and accelerate KC businesses.

Subscribe

How can we help you?

Our team helps grow entrepreneurship in Kansas City every day.