Being a woman in business can feel a little lonely and daunting sometimes, huh?
Whether you’re new to business, you’ve just broken away from your full time job, you’ve moved to a brand new area or you’re just a serial introvert, we have ALL been there.
That feeling of being the new kid on the block.
That almost sinking feeling where you can see the connections of everyone else around you but you have literally zero idea of how to break into those groups and simply introduce yourself!
The simple fact is, when you do business alone – it is freaking lonely.
Your friends don’t get it, your family wonder why you don’t go and get a “real job”. Sometimes even those closest to you, like your partner or even your best friend just simply do not and will not understand. It is because they don’t have that entrepreneurial mind that you have. That drive for freedom or that passion and vision that makes you get out of bed every day and do what you love.
If we rewind back to 3 years ago, that lonely business woman was me.
A mum of a 2 year old and a brand new newborn baby. I had just quit my full time job as a midwife and moved to a brand new area where I had no friends. I had just re-branded my photography business and I was absolutely packing my dacks. A few people I loosely knew in the area had commented to me “oh it’s pretty cliquey here, it will be hard to break in” and “you’ll probably find it pretty hard out here – no one spends money”.
Safe to say, I was terrified my business was going to fail. Terrified but it only made me more determined.
So over the last three years, despite the tall poppy syndrome comments and my semi-introverted and awkward AF personality – I set out to meet like-minded business owners who had the same drive and passion for business that I did.
I knew I could build a successful business here and I wanted friends in business who “got it” and would support me. I wanted to find businesses to collaborate with, to do exciting things with that would benefit both of our businesses.
I’m not going to lie, it was bloody hard work breaking out into the world, it was scary, I hated it some times, I met some pretty rude people and made some stupid mistakes.
Today, it’s a different story completely
3 years on, I have a solid bunch of close and local business pals, who all are in different industries but we all have the same drive and understanding for business. These gals have been an amazing support system for me during this time, personally and professionally.
Not only this, but I have built connections with well over 50+ insanely amazing local business women. Together have created some amazing and very profitable local marketing campaigns and even now, I work for multiple of these local brands photographing their content!
The power of community over competition is insane and if you even slightly feel a little lonely, out of depth, unconnected or unsupported, have a read of my top tips to break into the world and meet new people.
Whether you’re looking just for connection or you are dying to collaborate with some businesses – follow these tips and you’ll find this magical land of supportive women, who just simply get you. The moment you connect with other business women, instead of compare, is when you truly blossom in business.
FIRST TIP: Find your tribe
Scope your area/industry/niche for like-minded businesses with similar target clients to yours. Often, but not always, people within a similar area or those with a similar target audience will have similar interests to you which makes connecting with them easier. (But this isn’t always the case!).
Figure out what kind of people/brands/businesses you’d like to connect or collaborate with and why.
The why, I think, is really important, as it helps you to recognise what kind of connection or collaboration you are seeking from this business and helps you to better identify your connection with that brand before approaching them. You may just purely want to make friends with these people or maybe you have an idea you’d love to work on with them.
Figure out what you want and why first, write it all down.
So cliche, but honestly…become a member of SA WOMAN and go to the bloody events, people! Coming from an introverted soul, it is gross and feels wrong, but just force yourself and do it – this group is absolutely incredible and singlehandedly the best group to join if you’re looking for like-minded women in business.
There are often collaboration posts already set up in the Facebook page and members group, and you can use their online directory to search for particular brands and businesses! It is a great tool. I didn’t use it so much at the start (I should have) but I have used it a lot since and honestly most of my friends are from this group and if they weren’t I’ve now convinced them to join!
SECOND TIP : Build relationships first
This is THE single most important part in this whole thing.
Write a list of businesses you would love to work with or people you would love to meet and just go get it gurl – put yourself out there. (Cue all the introverts internally screaming over this tip!)
But honestly, build a relationship with these businesses you would love to connect with. The rest will just come with ease and before you know it, you’ve basically got yourself some work wives!
Follow these business on Instagram – THE GREATEST TOOL FOR COLLABORATION INVENTED! Engage with them, comment on their things, reply to their stories. (I’ve made over 100, maybe even 200 business friends and acquaintances through instagram!)
Post on the SA WOMAN FB pages and ask on there or go to one of the connecting meetings – this is the PRIME time to meet people and build relationships as often these women are in the exact same boat as you!!
Buy their product or service. Experience their world. Enjoy it, share it with your friends and following, blog about it. Tag them on instagram, recommend them, do a story about them. Simply support them like you would want to be supported.
Learn more about them, introduce yourself but don’t “offer yourself” straight away. It can be as simple as just going in the store to say hello, being a familiar face. (I do this too well to the point where my local cafe get worried if they don’t see me for a day lol)
Organise a business coffee morning and invite these women along to just chat and meet new people.
Some may not find this suitable or appropriate for your industry but it worked for me: I gave a tiny bit of my service away for free to those who I really wanted to work with professionally.
For me it was an investment of my time.
I found it was a fantastic opportunity for me to show off my experience, it was an amazing way to build up a relationship with these people and it was like a taste tester for them as well so they could get their own understanding of MY brand and what I was bringing to the table – that way it was no longer a one way street.
I loved what they did, and they then learned and loved what I did in return.
This was the part for me that helped these relationships to blossom! I believe you can get creative here – come up with interesting ways to share what you do and who you are with these people!
FINAL TIP : Turn your connections into collaborations (If you want to)
You’ve built those relationships, you have a great bunch of business women who you now call your friends. If you wanted to collaborate with them, now is the time to ask! (If not, keep on keeping on with those coffee dates and chit chats, girl!)
You’ve researched your ideal businesses to collaborate with, you have a solid understanding of their business and why you want to collaborate with them, you’ve built a great relationship with them – Well… There is nothing more to it. You’re ready to go.
At this point, they may have even already mentioned connecting or collaborating and if they haven’t – really at this point you should know this business well enough to feel comfortable about sharing your ideas with them.
You both should be on the same page, you will know by now if they would be keen and from here it really only is a matter of simply sharing your ideas and asking the fun part – “Do you wanna do this with me?!”. You’ll know their best ways of communication – some people hate being approached in person and others prefer to speak face to face. This is all part of the relationship building phase.
But before you do offer any form of collaboration – make sure you have a solid plan on what you’re aiming to do.
Design your campaign, have a goal in mind and a solid plan on how to achieve it. When you pitch it to your friend in business, make it very clear how it is going to benefit both parties. Collaboration is and should be about two or more businesses helping each other to achieve a common goal.
Once you’ve got your idea – roll with it.
You’ll often find with collaboration that your original plan will change as different businesses bring different ideas and perspectives and this is the true beauty of it all! Most importantly – have fun with it. Make friends and enjoy yourself!
If you got this far, today your mission is to start building a relationship with ONE person on Instagram. Go and comment on one of their posts or reply to their stories!