Recently, there have been Facebook groups with tens of thousands of members closing, and it’s causing quite a stir!
At this point in time, social media, and in particular Facebook groups, are the way many people connect with others, find clients, promote their services, share their content, and more. So what to do when that line of connection to thousands of business owners just goes away?
You find other connection points.
In this post, I’m not going to tell you about different online options besides Facebook groups to meet people. I’m actually going to encourage to go meet people.
Yep, that's right. Face to face, in the truest sense of community.
Just because you run an online business doesn’t mean your friendships, biz besties, clients, and mastermind groups have to be done through a screen (even though online connections are awesome, too!). If you're ready to step out of your comfort zone, here are 5 ways to find and connect with community the old-fashioned way.
Finding Community Offline
I know some of you may be reading this, and thinking, “but I live in a small town! There’s no one else who lives where I do that I can connect with.” Don’t worry, I’ve got some ideas for you, too.
Or maybe you’re an introvert like me who’s getting sweaty palms just thinking about having to make small talk with a stranger. The great thing about building community in-person is that it goes so much deeper than small talk, and that’s the kind of thing introverts and extroverts alike thrive off of.
So, whatever reason you have for wanting to keep yourself safe and comfortable building relationships through a screen, I promise that the connections and encouragement you find in face-to-face interactions will be totally and completely worth it, no matter how uncomfortable and hard it may seem. (But since you started your own business, I’m more than confident that you have enough courage to put yourself out there and build community.)
5 Ways to Connect
1 | Rising Tide Society chapter
I know the Rising Tide Society has a HUGE online community, but the thing that makes RTS amazing is the local chapters you can join. There are chapters of creatives meeting all around the world through this group! While I enjoy the broader connections the Facebook group allows, I’m most thankful and most fulfilled by the community I’ve found amongst small business owners in my area.
While many cities have big groups that meet each month, I’m fortunate enough to be in group that’s quite small (for now!) and tight-knit. Because there’s about 10 of us who regularly make it to the meetings each month, it’s allowed for some really great conversations. I know each person, their business, their brand, and their goals. We help troubleshoot each other’s problem areas, bounce ideas around to brainstorm, and celebrate triumphs.
Beyond the community aspect, the group has been really helpful for my business! Since many of the members are in my target market, I can ask their opinion and perspective about different services and courses I may want to offer. That is SO valuable, and you know what? It's so easy to make progress and round out ideas because the person I'm asking is right across the table from me.
If you’ve never heard of the Rising Tide Society or if you’ve been meaning to join a chapter, you can search the groups here to see if there’s one close to you. Don't see a group in your area? Go ahead and apply to start a chapter in your area!
2 | Savvy Community meet-up
Like the Rising Tide Society, this is a group that also has a strong, thriving Facebook group called Savvy Business Owners. However, earlier this year the founder, Heather Crabtree, started a new paid membership that sprung from the Facebook group. The membership is a nice hybrid between online and in-person community since there are lots of ways to connect in the online group through weekly prompts, forums, and educational components. Plus, there are in-person meet-ups available in different cities. Even if there’s not a Savvy group in your city, you have video chats with people in your virtual group, which is separated by time zone. It's the next best thing to meeting up in person!
Want to learn more about the Savvy Community membership? Click here.
3 | Local co-working spaces + business events
Depending on where you live, you may have the opportunity to snag a spot at a local co-working space. Where I currently live, there’s a business incubator that offers free business guidance, paid classes, and other weekly events, as well as another co-working space that caters to women and working-moms. Between these two spaces and the events they hold, it’s the ideal place to meet other likeminded locals who understand the ins and outs of running a business, and it’s been an easy point of connection.
If you’re wanting some connection or maybe feeling lonely working from home alone, I’d encourage you to find a local co-working space! Not only will you have the chance to meet other business owners and get connected to your local community, you’ll probably be way more productive as a bonus!
4 | Mastermind meet-ups
I know there are a lot of options for paid mastermind groups that meet online, but this point is actually inspired by a group of three designers who’ve seemed to master the mastermind.
Jamie from Spruce Rd., Phyllis Sa, and Kelsey from Paper & Oats are all online business owners who live in different places all around the U.S. If you follow along with any of these talented ladies, you may have seen that they meet up once a year or so for an in-person mastermind/business retreat. So, while their regular meetings and brainstorm sessions are held virtually, they’ve found a way to strengthen their group’s sense of community by going on a trip together. Sounds so fun!
So, if you’re someone who lives in a small town or in a place where a thriving small business community is lacking, consider trying what these designers do. Having a virtual mastermind group that allows you the opportunity to cultivate community online, plus the bonus of an annual in-person retreat could be the perfect fit!
If you want to learn more about their mastermind group, you can read Jamie’s perspective and tips for creating your own group here.
5 | Conferences
This list certainly wouldn’t be complete without conferences, which seems like the ultimate way to meet with fellow creatives and business owners face-to-face. (Introverts, I bet your palms are realllllly sweaty now.)
With so many conferences held each year, you can definitely find one that fits exactly what you’re looking for. There’s conferences with workshops, ones geared toward a specific industry (like wedding planners, bloggers, photographers, etc.), ones that are a smaller size to make connections and conversations easier, etc.
If you’re embracing the idea of in-person connection, then I’d definitely recommend attending a conference! You’re guaranteed to go home with more friends than when you left home. Plus, if you really connect with someone, the conference then opens the door to a wonderful friendship and maybe even someone to start a mastermind group with!