Welcome to Breaking the Blueprint — a new blog series that dives into the unique business challenges and opportunities of Black business owners and entrepreneurs. Learn how they’ve grown or scaled their businesses, explored entrepreneurial ventures within their companies, or created side hustles, and how their stories can inspire and inform your own success.
Black entrepreneurs must be a part of a supportive ecosystem in order for their businesses to grow and succeed.
Black businesses are often overlooked when it comes to mentorship, capital, and assistance, and only 18% of Black business owners report receiving assistance from loan officers in completing business loan applications. The future of our businesses comes down to who we know, which is why networking is an integral part of a Black entrepreneur’s success.
About 41% of Black-owned businesses in the U.S. closed from February to April 2020, and more than 50% of surviving Black business owners said they’re concerned about the longevity of their companies. So for Black business owners looking for stability, networking is essential. But the lack of in-person conferences and events has put a strain on making authentic connections with other Black entrepreneurs.
To keep the conversations going and our community growing, I’ve made a list of some of the best online networking platforms for Black entrepreneurs aside from LinkedIn. These are some of my personal favorites, and favorites among people in my professional circle.
The Gathering Spot
The Gathering Spot is a membership club for Black professionals with locations in Atlanta, DC, and Los Angeles, and other connected cities looking to build clubs. They invite entrepreneurs, leaders, and creators to come together and collaborate.
Each club includes a full restaurant and bar, co-working space, and event space. And their online platform, The Gathering Spot Connects, allows members to catch live streams, watch previous programming, and connect with other members across the globe.
First Founders helps early-stage entrepreneurs launch successful startups through their accelerator programs. The company also has a community support feature and access to resources in an effort to remove barriers to entry for Black entrepreneurs.
Their Community Portfolio serves as a great directory for people to get a closer look at over 200 members’ businesses with direct links to their websites and social media accounts, making it easy to connect. Members can also submit their own tools and resources to help others.
The HubSpot Community has over 100k members and encourages professionals to use its forum feature to have longer conversations on topics like entrepreneurship, tech, marketing, business, finance, and more.
Users can direct message each other, participate in virtual events, share meeting links to have one-on-one calls, and more. One of the most exciting features is [email protected], a social networking group that gathers Black professionals across industries to connect and network.
HelloSeven is a woman-owned company founded by Rachel Rodgers, whose mission is to help other women make as much money as possible. The company’s We Should All Be Millionaires Club is a membership community that provides coaching, courses, and legal guidance.
The community feature is also an amazing resource for women who are new to entrepreneurship, finance, and business and are looking to connect with other women whose businesses have reached over $1 million in revenue.
Somewhere Good is a Black-owned social media platform founded by Naj Austin, who is also the CEO of Ethel’s Club, an online wellness community.
As of May 2021, Somewhere Good raised $3.75 million, with famous investors like Gabrielle Union. The purpose is to create a community-first perspective where Black people and other people of color can be a part of a safe and intentional digital space free of harassment, and full of authentic support. Although the platform is not yet public, you can sign up for early access before the official launch this year.
Melanance’s platform is unique because connections are facilitated by their team and over 2,000 connections have been made to date. All you have to do is create your profile, select your meeting availability, and wait to be matched.
These curated matches are meant to be more purposeful for entrepreneurs and leaders of color who are trying to grow their skills and build connections, without having to spend extra time searching for those great contacts.
Twitter is a popular social media platform, which means it’s one of the best apps for networking and overall visibility. When you use Twitter strategically, casual conversations can turn into big business opportunities.
I’ve seen dozens of people set up meetings with potential investors and other professionals simply by Tweeting content surrounding their business, following people in their industry, and interacting with others’ posts. And on a personal level, I’ve met people on Twitter through casual conversations that later impacted the success of my company.
Clubhouse is an invite-only app where users can participate in audio-only chat rooms as speakers or listeners. On Clubhouse, users can hear directly from CEOs, public figures, investors, and more. The app also allows users to create “clubs” or groups within the app to connect with others who have similar interests or run similar businesses.
Online spaces with predominantly Black entrepreneurs and leaders are growing day-by-day, and I’m excited to see how these communities continue to grow and allow Black businesses to thrive as the world finds a new normal post-pandemic.