How to Build Your Own Creative Business: Connection and Networking {Day 17}

Build Your Own Creative Business Series by Lisa Jacobs on Marketing Creativity

Welcome back to the Build Your Own Creative Business 31 Day Series! This is {Day 17} of the program (click here to catch up from Day 1). We’ve covered the basics on social media and blogging, so today we’re going to discuss effective networking to build powerful connections online and within your industry.

Competitively speaking, think abundance

When I wrote my first post for the Etsy community forum about making 450 sales in my first three months of business, I shared all of my secrets and asked that readers remember that I am not the competition. I told the community, “I am always your friend. We have neighboring shops and we help each other, whether you realize it or not.”

When I wrote that post, I was using Facebook advertising to attract new customers, many of whom joined Etsy when visiting my shop for the first time. I saw my Facebook ads as a way to help my business and the selling community I was a part of. However, that logic sparked a debate between me and a reader who wondered: if I’m not trying to “outsell the competition” then why do I advertise in the first place?

If you and I were both shop owners at a local mall, and I advertised to draw people to my store, you would benefit. All Etsy sellers are my neighbors, and if someone comes to my door, it just so happens to be right next to yours. I don’t want to take your sales, but I do want to make sales. I told the reader, “To me, that’s like saying if you and I were fishing the ocean for dinner, we’re competing with each other. I don’t see it that way. I see it as both of us pulling from the bounty of the ocean.”

Do you operate on worry thought?

This is where we must be careful in business: erase those thoughts of scarcity. Ignore the reptilian-side of your brain that tries to shout, “If they have, I’ll have not!” I keep book author, Louise Hay’s lovely voice on my iPod and in my ear, and this topic reminds me of her saying that every thought we choose to think is an affirmation. When you say, “There’s only so much to go around,” that’s an affirmation, but a negative one, based on fear and lack.

As we are all human, we all are capable of that sudden jolt of envy when we see the high sales and huge success of another. What I try to do is transform that scarcity thought from envy to admiration. Do you realize that small business magazines, like Inc., are doing articles on Etsy sellers, such as Ashley G, who are reporting six figure salaries with their handmade craft? SIX FIGURES! With nothing but the most respectful admiration, I shout, “Yes, please! That’s for me! Hallelujah!” By keeping my creative juices positive and forward-moving, I work toward success.

Abundance is …

Imagine this: If you could figure out how to tell everyone in the entire world about your product right now, and then weed out the people who were interested from the people who were not, you would never be able to keep up with the demand from those who were interested. Not by yourself, anyway.

Here’s a new thought for your creative business: change your affirmations in a direction that leads you away from competitive, scarcity thinking and toward that sea of interested people. If you take one thing from this article, I hope it will be this quote from Wayne Dyer: “Abundance is scooped from abundance, and abundance remains.” That’s Universal thinking, and to that I say, “Yes, please!”

Opportunity surrounds you

When you believe that there is enough business and money for us all, it opens the possibilities and potential connections around you. You feel compelled to reach out to role models, competitors, and other creative business owners that inspire you.

I started reaching out to all kinds of creative business owners late last year, and you wouldn’t believe the ideas, projects, and shared income a few email threads (and a Skype session here and there) have generated.

Not only that, my online connections have given me the confidence to explore real-world meetings and conferences (such as the local meet-up I initiated between myself and two very successful creative business owners in the area).

When like-minded creatives get together, they can’t help but do what they do best: build something out of nothing. The brainstorming happens instantly and automatically. When Tim Adam (Handmadeology) and I schedule a Skype session, our ideas build so quickly and productively, that we come away from a 30-minute chat with a six-month plan and business outline.

Join the club

I’m a huge fan of networking. If I had a physical storefront, I would join the local chamber of commerce or country club to mix and mingle with like-minded business owners. But I live online, so most of my networking is done in the virtual world. That’s why I host the Luminaries Club, and the benefits and knowledge that come with it has been priceless to my creative career.

I loved these words from Think Traffic’s post, 10 Mistakes in Starting an Online Business on the mistake of going it alone:

Most importantly, you need support from other entrepreneurs who are at similar stages as you are, and from others with more experience.

The more connected you become with other entrepreneurs, the more normal your quest becomes. You’ll no longer feel crazy or alone, and you’ll realize that we all face obstacles just like you’re facing.

You can start by setting a goal to reach out and connect with at least 1 other creative business owner a day for 31 days and see where it leads. When doing so, be sure the email tells how you found them, why you’re interested in connecting, and requests a follow-up (such as, “Email back if you’d like an update when I get a team together.” -or- “Let me know if you’d be interested in a half-hour brainstorming session that I think will benefit us both!”).

That’ll do it for connection and networking on {Day 17}! If you’re enjoying this series, you’ll absolutely love my weekly newsletter. Be sure to subscribe below!

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  • Love this line of thinking Lisa!
    I’ve always thought that setting up shop beside similar businesses can be beneficial for everyone. Another benefit for the customer.
    PS – I was a Fizzler when they had their second intake, but have since left. Glad to see you’re getting a lot from it.

    • Thanks, Debra. I think I started Fizzle on the second intake as well … I must’ve just missed you!

  • Hi Lisa, I think you’re spot-on with this message, and it doesn’t just apply to creative businesses, either 🙂

    I’ve also noticed that true “competition” is not really an issue, even on Etsy. There are buyers for beautiful, high-quality products and someone will find your products beautiful and high-quality!

    Thanks for the series!

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