As an online entrepreneur, it can get pretty lonely. No coworkers, no break room banter, no sneaking out early for a long lunch. In fact, if you even remember to eat lunch in a timely fashion these days - then it's a cause for celebration.
Without that built in community that comes in the office setting, it's probably more important than ever for online entrepreneurs to make the effort to build up a community, and make time to connect with fellow business owners.
This year I've made it a goal to reach outside of my (very cozy) comfort zone and virtually mingle with fellow creatives and business owners through coffee chats, or Skype dates or what ever you want to call them. In fact, I don't even drink coffee so I usually show up with fresh cup of tea! But you get the idea.
A coffee chat is just a conversation where you can get to know each other and chat about life and business. I do most of mine on Skype or over the phone, but you could meet up in person if they are local.
Today I'm sharing a few ways that these seemingly simple coffee chats have changed my business.
I MET AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER
If you happen to be one of those people that does better when you have someone to check in with, then get yourself an accountability partner ASAP. I met my accountability partner Ashley Cox last year on a coffee chat and we hit it off, quickly realizing we were stronger together. We now chat weekly to update each other on our projects, discuss any setbacks and celebrate our accomplishments. I have tried several methods and masterminds before, but I do best with our one-on-one accountability. Meeting over Skype is a great way to know if you connect to someone and work well together.
I MET THE REAL PERSON BEHIND THE NAME
I'm in several Facebook Groups for business ladies and it has been so nice to reach out to a few of the names I always see in the news feed to get to know the actual person. Each time I do this I feel like I'm more connected to the community. I find myself being more open in my commenting and more likely to engage in conversations online. If you are having trouble feeling heard or like you are just one tiny voice in a vast sea of comments. Start reaching out and the online world will start to feel more inclusive.
I'VE BECOME MORE CONFIDENT
Meeting so many fellow bosses has really helped me hone my "who I am and what I do" intro. I practice telling them about who I serve, how I got into this business and what makes me unique. Over time you start to leave out the extraneous details and realize what resonates most with people. In a way, I found my story and I feel more confident each time I share it.
I'VE HAD A-HA MOMENTS
Chatting with a variety of business owners really gives you a chance to discover other perspectives. We swap feedback on our ideas, brainstorm solutions or daydream about our next big thing. I've had a few a-ha moments, one in particular stands out from a coffee chat I had with Katie Williamsen. She was telling me how she outsourced some tasks because she kept procrastinating. Simple really. But I was like "hold. the. phone. You can outsource something JUST because you are procrastinating it?!"
I, for some reason, ignored all the advice of "delegate the tasks you don't like to do or can't do", because it was something I liked doing or could do. But that thing you keep putting off, that you don't really mind doing, and your pretty good at - yet you can't seem to make the time to do it. Hire someone to do it for you! And so I did, and guess who has help making her look book now. This girl.
I FEEL LESS ALONE
This might be the most important reason to book some coffee chats! The common bond you have with other business owners is undeniable. And every now and then you will meet a true-blue, real-deal friend. One of those friends you can ugly cry with, and share your fears and insecurities. The friend you can call when you need advice about a difficult client situation or a weirdo copy cat. They will also be the ones you call when you book your dream client or get an exciting email from an industry leader! These friends will be there for you in ways that your other non-business (but still wonderful) friends and family can't. These friends will just get it.
I'M DOING MORE COLLABORATIONS
If you're looking for more ways to collaborate with other businesses, coffee chats are a great way to reach out. You can get to know them and their business and see if a collaboration is the right fit for you both. In fact, Holly Meyer and I met on a coffee chat and have already cooked up a few collaborations. I'm a guest expert in her course, Brand Your Roar. She provided some branding collateral to help me do a styled shoot. And we're just getting started!
I'M GETTING MORE INQUIRIES
I don't directly pitch on a coffee chat. #sorude. If you naturally end up hiring each other because you have services or products the other person needs, that's one thing. But most likely, you will just gain an extra set of eyes and ears to mention your name if they see someone looking for your service, and vice versa.
SO, WHO SHOULD YOU CHAT WITH?
Chat with people:
- who have a similar audience.
- you admire.
- you see all the time and want to get to know.
- who reach out to you.
- you want to collaborate with.
HOW DO YOU TO FIND THEM?
First, I suggest you set up a schedule (like Calendly) with specific times you are available for coffee chats. This just makes is so much easier for everyone to find a convenient time to chat.
- If you have someone in mind, just ask! Send them a nice email or private message and you might be surprised how excited they are to chat.
- Ask in Facebook Groups. Introduce yourself and be specific about what kind of connections you'd like to make. An accountability partner, collaborations, fellow shop owners?
- Try Flock + Co, a curated + searchable directory of influencers and small business owners. Their new app makes personalized collaboration and connection suggestions for you and your business! (Right now they are doing a beta test of the app, so request an invite if you want to be one of the first to try it out and give feedback. Otherwise, keep your eyes peeled for when they fully launch because it will be awesome!)
- Ask your newsletter list.
- Add it to your contact form on your website.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO CHAT?
Send me a note here and I'll get back to you shortly with my scheduling link!