If you run your own business, do you ever find that you sometimes feel isolated? Especially if your business is online-based? You are not alone!
I work best alone, but the more I matured, the more I craved having other people to bounce ideas off of, and just be in community with, especially people doing a similar kind of work.
So, is it really necessary to be in community? I believe 100% YES! I'm a firm believer in community over competition, and I'm of the opinion that you stand to lose more if you don't plug into a community of some sort. There is strength in numbers!
Below are some of the benefits that I've found networking with others to bring.
1. YOU STAY IN THE KNOW ABOUT INDUSTRY TRENDS
Photographer, decor provider, makeup artist etc, you'll know how quickly trends shift and change, and just how important it is to not necessarily follow the trends but to be aware of them so you can stay relevant. Your peers will know something that you don't know, and therefore enrich your life, and vice-versa.
By not being in community with your peers, you are missing out on referrals big time! This is especially true if you work with other businesses not necessarily doing the same thing, but your services intertwining. For example, if you are a wedding photographer make business friends with wedding planners, florists, caterers etc. These people work with possibly your target market, and will probably bring you business.
3. YOU HAVE SOMEWHERE TO SEND CLIENTS YOU CANNOT TAKE ON
This one is sort of connected with the last point above. There are times when you can't take on clients for whatever reason. Ideally, you want to be able to refer them to someone you trust and know can do a good job, someone that shares the same values when it comes to customer service. So, if you don't network and stay in community with anyone, you are likely to just turn your clients away, or take on too many clients and risk burnout.
4. A SAFE PLACE TO VENT
Have you ever had someone going through the same struggles listen to you? They totally listen differently, and you feel understood! Let's face it, running a business can be challenging some days, but when you are in community with others, you can have a place, other than your poor partner, to vent to. And by venting I don't mean demeaning your clients or other businesses, but more processing what you are feeling about certain situations.
5. YOU HAVE PEOPLE LOOKING OUT FOR YOU
If the community that you are in is a healthy one, you will look out for one another. This simply means that as much as you have healthy competition, you will also look out for one another above anything else. In my case, I've had other photographers warn me if a client I was about to enter into a potentially risky working relationships, I've had them encourage me to apply for certain things, I've had them give me a heads up if my images were used somewhere without my knowledge.
These are just some of the benefits you get from being in community with other businesses, and it's one of the pillars of a strong business I believe.
So how do you identify great communities to join? That will be my next post, watch out for it!
Now your turn, what communities are you in that support you? Online and offline? Share in comments below!