Taking the plunge
I was recently invited to a Small Business meeting in my local community. I’ve been meaning to try networking on several occasions but it’s always felt a bit scary so I’ve put it off. I guess a part of me has also felt like an imposter – “Am I really a small business?”, “what can I offer a group like this?”. But I was feeling brave and also wanted to support a colleague who’d organised the event so I duly showed up.
What’s the worst that can happen?
Before heading in I thought of what I’d say to a client in a similar situation which would be something along the lines of “what’s the worst that can happen?” (for me probably spilling coffee down my top or walking into the room with my skirt tucked into my underwear). Neither of these were likely to happen and I mitigated this by not drinking coffee and wearing trousers! I expected there to be around 5 or 6 people there but there were at least 20. As we went round the room introducing ourselves I was struck by how many people felt the same as I did. Nervous about being there but had shown up anyway. Instantly I felt a connection – I’m not on my own here.
As the introductions progressed I was interested to hear people’s stories and why they were here. It was made clear from the start that this actually wasn’t a networking event (phew!!) but a small group of like-minded individuals who hoped to work together to support each other in the community. Wow! I was liking this! Around the table was a wealth of experience, insight and opinion. People were offering ideas and solutions to the issues that were raised. Some of them difficult (How do I navigate my way round social media?) to straight forward things like how do I remove permanent marker from a whiteboard! Thanks Steve!! I started to feel inspired and motivated by those around me. I was amongst people who, whilst working in different businesses, still shared some of my worries or difficulties and were more than happy to offer solutions in a supportive way.
Finding your tribe
During the meeting I was reminded of an article I’d read a year or so ago in Psychologies Magazine https://www.psychologies.co.uk/ which was all about “Finding your tribe”. Rooting out those like-minded people who either think like you, enjoy the same things as you or are working towards a similar goal. It does work! It can be isolating doing things on your own but even just to “buddy up” with someone can make a huge difference. Increasing your motivation and holding you accountable. At times I’ve had a mindfulness buddy who used to text me when she’d done her meditation and this reminded me to make some space to meditate. I’ve also had a well-being buddy who has frequently emailed me to see how I’m looking after myself. I’ve done the same to both to chivvy them along too.
After a fantastic presentation on “Marketing on a Shoe String” I left the meeting with a smile, some business cards and top tips on marketing my business. But more importantly I felt like I wasn’t alone. There was a community out there and I was part of it. I had “colleagues” to bounce ideas off or be inspired by. We’ve all got a tribe out there. What are you waiting for! Go find yours!!