Here’s the thing about being an entrepreneur.
It gets lonely. Like, legit Eric Carmen “all by myself” kinda lonely. (Got that song in your head now? Sorry, friend.) But it’s true.
You’re working toward something that not everyone quite understands or even supports sometimes and there are so many learning curves in the process and things you wish you could walk over with someone. Some days the excitement of having your own business can fizzle a little and instead it gets replaced with this loneliness that makes you wish you had someone who gets it.
Or at least it can feel that way before you start meeting people and making connections with other entrepreneurs who are in the same boat.
A lot of time people don’t know where to start when it comes to meeting people or making new connections. I mean, seriously, I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with people on the topic of how difficult it is to make friendships after college. So the subject of meeting other entrepreneurs or building a “tribe” of people in your same field, I know can sound impossible.
So how DO you go about finding your people and networking within your niche? I promise it’s not as complicated as you think and the benefits are priceless.
Get Out There and Shmooze
I know there doesn’t seem to be a lot of time for social outings or social anything for that matter when you’re glued to your computer or creating a bunch of product for your shop. Setting aside even a tiny spot in your week to attend an event or get together with someone is going to be so worth it. This could be one hour per week that you devote and promise to get out of the house and put yourself in the environment where you could be meeting people that could benefit your business and your life.
- Free networking events – Check to see if there is a small business center, Venture Cafe or Entrepreneur Meet Up in your area. There are tons of event dates and times on the websites for you to choose from.
- Join a Mastermind group – Caileigh from Odds & Ends explains why this can help your biz and how to find the right one for you here. You can choose to join one that meets in person or just online.
- Attend a workshop or take a class – Chances are if someone signed up then they need to learn the same things you do! Find a study buddy or use the break times to your advantage to get to know someone!
- Good ol’ fashioned coffee date – Ask a fellow small biz owner to join you at Starbucks for a cup of coffee. Don’t be afraid to be the first person to do the inviting. It could open up doors for both of you.
Use Social Media as Your Match Maker
We’re all scrolling on our phones day and night, did you ever stop to think about using social media to make real connections for you and your business? This is an awesome way to get to know people and network within your niche and get familiar with one another even if you live half way across the world. It sounds funny but I’d say at least a handful or more of the relationships I’ve made with fellow bloggers and crafters have been through connecting on social media.
- #Instagram stalking – OK, so maybe stalking is taking it a little far. We use hashtags all the time, but did you know you can use them to find your new biz bestie? Search for #photographers, #artists, or #makers with your city name in front of them and you’ll find all sorts of biz gals & guys you can connect with. Follow some account and show your support by sending a Direct Message and introduce yourself.
- Sign up for a Facebook Group – Search Facebook for groups for small business owners or get more specific (i.e. jewelry making, etsy sellers, etc.) Have you checked out the community page yet and joined my Handmade by Her Facebook group?
- Have a Twitter conversation – Check out Twitter Chats to see if there is a topic that relates to your business or brand and jump into the convo! You can see who else is responding and follow them if you want to get to know them more and talk in the future.
- Linked In is not just for job recruiters – it’s a HUGE networking resource. Use the search bar to find people you’d like to connect with and send them an Invite. Search for people with words like “entrepreneur” or “etsy” in their job title. Maybe do a search for your area specifically and see who else is in town. These could be great people to collaborate with in the future.
I like to think of being an entrepreneur as this really awesome club. As you position yourself within the community you find that a lot of other people see it that way too. The worry of competition and the mindset that there’s not enough success out there for everyone really has not place in the small business world if you ask me. 9 out of 10 times, you’ll find people are so willing to welcome you into their lives and share their experience and are craving the same support and connection that you are. We can all learn so much from each other. So cheers to more coffee dates or nights with a bottle of wine and getting to know each other goals for business and life.