Support and Network

It’s Baby Audrey’s first birth this month and as I reflect on this last year, the common theme for me is support. Which means I’m officially dubbing the month of April for The Branded Chat: This is What Support Looks Like. In case you missed it, check out more in this series: Support and Team, Support and Education.

As I think back on this last year, I cannot tell you how valuable it has been to connect, network and learn from other business owners. I’ve invested more (both time and money) this last year in networking and connecting with other businesses than I have in the years prior, combined. And, the biggest gift I’ve gotten from expanding who I surround myself with is their perspectives on life and business. Yes, new opportunities arise and expanding my brand’s awareness is great, too. But the learning and mindset changes I’ve been able to make because of the different ideas, perspectives and thoughts these business owners have is the most beneficial takeaway to intentionally growing my network.

I remember having dinner with another business owner last year and she said something so nonchalantly that it completely caught me off guard. She said, “Oh yea, we’re going to be a million dollar agency next year. The goal was this year but next year for sure.” The confidence that she had in saying it was freakin’ awesome. And then I thought really long and hard about my own goals. And no, it’s not about the money. It was about the confidence and inner-knowing that she had which caused me to pause and reflect. It was the moment when I realized, “Oh. I get it now. Surrounding yourself with people who think big and are so unapologetic about their goals forces you to step into that space as well.” 

Here’s what intentional connection and networking has looked like for me this past year: 

Joining paid memberships. I joined the What Works Network last June and it’s been so fun to connect with other like-minded business owners. It wasn’t a huge investment in terms of money but I am realizing that in order to get the most out of the community, it does require time – time to connect, join the events, respond to the chat feeds, ask questions, etc. But it’s oh-so-worth-it. 

Since then, I also tested out two other paid community memberships, both of which weren’t a great fit. But, I’m still glad that I joined. It was one month and definitely worth trying out to see what works well and what doesn’t. And, I’m always open to testing out other communities. Generally the monthly fee is less than $100 and as I think about the potential return, it’s a no-brainer. 

Joining a mastermind (or two). Last January, I reached out to a few business friends and asked if they wanted to join in on a peer-led mastermind. They agreed and asked some of their friends. There are six of us that meet for 1.5 hours every month. It’s been wonderful. We all do different things and we all show up, ready to support each other through the ups and downs of business and life. I cannot recommend being part of a mastermind enough. 

I also joined a local paid mastermind that starts in May. What I love about this option is that I just have to show up; there isn’t any facilitation involved since I’m paying for someone else to do that. This will be the second paid mastermind that I’m part of and what I love about this is that everyone else is paying – they all have skin in the game, so to speak. While our peer-led group is great in that we established the boundaries up front, sometimes with peer-led, they can fizzle out since no one has money invested. Just something to keep in mind if you’re thinking about starting (or joining) something that is free.

Networking events. There’s a great speed networking event (it’s virtual, so anyone can join in!) that I discovered last January and have been attending regularly since then. The group started here in Minnesota but moved to virtual events (thanks Covid) and they are staying virtual for the time being. I love the format and have made some pretty great connections. Every once in awhile, I’ll spend 20-30 minutes researching on Eventbrite and social media to find some new events to attend. You never know what connections you’ll walk away with! 

Coffee chats and in-person meetups. With Covid restrictions lifting-ish, I’ve now been making more of an effort to meet up with local business friends. This past summer, it meant going on walks and meeting up at dog parks. Now that restaurants are more open, I’ve added in meeting for lunch or coffee. But the goal is the same – regular, in-person connection with business owners that I thoroughly enjoy being around.

While making and nurturing connections can be a lot of work, I promise the payoff is worth it. 

Happy connecting 🙂