Sitting alone on the computer at the end of a busy day in the office isn’t exactly the best Petri dish for cultivating a flow of words for your next newsletter intro. The best ideas always happen in the shower, or when you’re walking home from work. By the time you get back to your computer, they’re gone.
Running a small business can be a lonely game. Making the decision to do it yourself means the buck stops with you and we all know it's 99% perspiration, 1% inspiration. Being able to draw on a network of trusted colleagues to stimulate ideas and learn from, have a whinge to and touch base with on a regular basis is invaluable. If you haven’t already developed a support network, now’s the time to foster one.
It’s not just the tough times that call for a posse of like-minded girl-bosses to get you through. Having a strong circle of support around anyone in business is the key to continued success - urging you to keep trying new things, stop sweating the small stuff, celebrate the wins, mourn the losses, inspiring, encouraging and helping you to focus on the bigger picture.
Building a brains trust is not only a great way to learn and grow, it creates the ability for you to give back. Sharing your own knowledge with others can be so rewarding and helps you to place a higher value on what you know, rather than focusing on what you don’t know. What goes around comes around.
Where do you start?
Framing a network is not as hard as you think, but it doesn’t happen all at once. You might find yourself already surrounded by wonderful people who mentor and support you in business. Changing the way you think about them is the first step. If you often find yourself hanging up the phone or walking away from an encounter with someone feeling like you’d like to spend more time with them, take action right away and make a date to see them again soon. Better still, set up a regular time that suits you both to come together. It can be a neutral, informal setting and doesn’t always have to revolve around work - a casual drink or brunch every couple of months is all it takes to keep the lines of communication open.
Don’t wait for them to come to you. Choose a time each week to sit down and connect with someone over coffee - even if it’s a friend or family member - to stimulate you and take you away from the daily grind. Make the call or hit them up on social media with a simple invitation to connect. Act on those conversations where you both say, “We should get together over a coffee…” the time is now!!
Stretch yourself. If there’s someone who’s work or business you admire and would like to learn from, step outside of your comfort zone and make time to hook up with them. Rather than being intimidated by success, be inspired by it and look for growth in the light of others’ accomplishments. If there’s someone you’ve already developed a fruitful connection with, extend your network to include others. Sometimes it’s helpful to bring along a friend or colleague you’re already comfortable with to ease the process.
Keep it up. Once you’ve earmarked this moment in your week to feed your creative brain, put it in your diary and make a habit of it. Soon you’ll find yourself with an available time slot at the ready for those times you’re looking to lock in a meet up.
Networking can be taxing but it’s worth the effort. If you’re apprehensive about sharing your own knowledge, don't be; in fact the opposite is true. Taking the plunge to discuss business in detail (within your own comfort zone of course) can be empowering and really constructive to problem solve and open things up to other opinions and ideas. Running a small business or driving your own career goals often means being so close to it that opportunities and possibilities are overlooked.
Join groups. Even if networking is not your thing, one of the best ways to connect with like-minded people is to join an existing group. There are loads of groups around conceived to stimulate and empower women in business, both online and in the real world where people come together. Pay attention to those that pop up on social media and the circles you move in and sign up for the next gathering.
Put your game face on and be your best self in these meet ups. Surrounding yourself with inspiring people makes you reach that little bit higher and dig a little deeper to produce results you may not have thought possible. With any luck, you'll find a bunch of kindred spirits who not only provoke great ideas, they will text you the next morning to remind you of what hatched while you were chatting.
Join our Tribe
TLSE Tribe is an inclusive Facebook group offering guidance and support for creative startups. Solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, mumpreneurs and go-getting women all share valuable information and collect ideas for their business lives. Hang out with some like minded women to chat, share, connect and discuss the ins and outs of business. Join us. We want advice, we want to laugh. We have guest speakers.
WORDS | Diana Moore, TLSE
PHOTOGRAPHY | Toa Heftiba, Cowomen and Jessica da Rosa on Unsplash