“This might make me sound like a creepy stalker, but I’ve passed you in the halls a few times this week and every time I see you, I keep thinking how beautiful you are!”
No, that’s not a pick up line.
Well, I guess in a sense, it was. It spilled out of my mouth on the trade show floor at WPPI a few weeks ago, spoken to a woman I’d felt pulled towards every time I’d passed her. I couldn’t figure out why. There was just a feeling in my gut that said ‘Go talk to her!’ And so when she happened to be standing at a booth beside the one I was lingering at, I took the risk of sounding like a creeping stalker, I took the chance and introduced myself. And it turned out to be one of many fateful interactions I had throughout the conference. She just happens to run retreats for creatives. Like Christine and I, my new connection is committed to the creation of community for creatives, through amazing retreats to beautiful locations for some deep creative love.
And all it took was me getting a little brave.
In the world of owning a personal service business, making meaningful connections is what will make the difference between success and failure. I’ve yet to meet a wildly successful creative professional who hasn’t had to find and embrace a community of like-minded people. You can’t do this alone. Let me say it again. You can’t do this alone.
So, if you can’t do this alone, how will you create meaningful connections within your community? These are my tips for getting connected.
1) Take chances. A big part of making connections is stepping outside of your comfort zone, and talking to … well, everyone. Say hello to people you pass on the street. Strike up a conversation while you’re waiting in line at the grocery store.
2) Know who you are. Sounds weird, right? Of course, you know who you are. Your name. What you do. But do you know how to tell people about what you do in a way that sets you apart? When I first became a photographer, I frequently introduced myself as a photographer – a profession that’s becoming increasingly full of members. After I discovered my why, I was able to tell people I was a photographer who focused on the motherhood journey. And while I wasn’t the only photographer who took pictures of pregnant women and newborns, I was the only one anyone met who talked about the journey to motherhood as a whole, and about celebrating the moment when both mother and child were born. Passion and clarity makes the people around you lean in – they want to know more.
3) Listen more than you talk. Once you introduce yourself, it’s time to start listening. A genuine interest in the person you are meeting will go a lot further than endlessly chattering about yourself, or long minutes of awkward silence spent staring into your drink. Learn to ask good questions. Ask people what they are passionate about, what they love, how they discovered that passion.
4) Be giving
. This is not a sales pitch. This is about resonant, intimate connections with people who think like you do. People who will push you to be better. People you will offer a hand up to without a second thought. You aren’t trying to sell them anything. In what ways can you enrich the lives of those in your community? How can you offer value? Be helpful, open, and receptive to the help of others.
5) Follow up. Touch base with your new connection within two or three days of your meeting. Call, email, or friend them on Facebook. Connections have to be nurtured or they die. Find ways to reconnect on a regular basis.
All of this seems like common sense, doesn’t it? Really, making connections in your community for your business should be the exact same thing as making connections for your personal life. It should be about common views, caring, support and love. Sometimes we over think these things, but this is it at its core: You can’t do this alone, so find other people to do it with you.
I’m a communicator. That’s a PC way of saying I like to talk, but I also spend a lot of my time listening, and over the years, I’ve developed a sense for subtext – how one or two words can change your entire message, what people are really trying to say and how to weave the varied layers of your story into one cohesive brand message that your clients fall in love with.
When I'm not acting as editor in chief for Vivid & Brave, you can find me geeking out over words here.
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