Photo by matthewgriff “And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” Nelson Mandela.
One of the best and most challenging aspects of being in business for yourself is finding and connecting with community. I’m not just talking about people who like your random posts on Facebook or are willing to comment on a blog post once and while. I’m talking about the people who are there — ready and willing to share advice freely and joyously because they really want to see you succeed. The folks who support you when you create new products, teach a class or have a chance to speak about your passion. And of course, to laugh with you when you would otherwise be in tears. Finding that community takes managing your share of scrapes, bumps and turns with folks before you know if and how they connect with you, your business and personal values. Not everyone is worthy, nor should they be. So it’s important to keep in mind; what kind of community are you trying to cultivate in the first place, beyond the sheer numbers? And that just takes a little experience, combined with inner personal clarity.
Cyber Connections and Hybrid Relationships
As we all know, community has moved beyond the physical into the realms of cyber-space, transforming how we connect and with whom. But what we consider community is also changing in light of faster access to information and more diverse opportunities. Being part of a greater community has it’s value from a neighborhood perspective (i.e. where you live), as does a more refined, targeted community such as Cohere Coworking Community, a place for independent workers, entrepreneurs and business owners to work together, side-by-side on their own thing. Before becoming a member of Cohere, I’d always been a relationship-based business person, but only IN person. Being a member of a co-working space in the digital age allowed me to connect with other members in person and virtually, in addition to being an active part of an online community. Sometimes I meet people “in the flesh” at events or on shared coworking days, but I’m also able to rely on the whole community for insight, advice and cool new resources to support my own business, whenever I want, online. The power and support of being part of this community has started to shape my business and vision in ways I never expected, bringing in new connections, collective events and new friends. I’ve also scored new gigs and collaborated on cool projects with amazing, smart people. In fact, I would not be writing for Word Carnivals today if it was not for a connection who told me about Cohere in the first place — fellow carnie Nick Armstrong. Even though we aren’t necessarily working at Cohere physically at the same time, our connection with that community impacts us both as we collaborate on other projects, including Four Course Marketing. And the best part about both communities is that I get to show up and be myself; to interact and collaborate on a level that works for me — something that is invaluable for my mental sanity and personal creativity.
Value of Creating Community with a Purpose
The value of community is only worth what you think of it or are willing to put into it. For me, connecting with other entrepreneurs, small business owners, writers and creative minds is extremely valuable to me on a personal and business level. It feeds my soul, providing the insight and connections to grow my writing and creative consulting business and invites me to put more of “me” into my business. My successful experience with Cohere also opened my mind and heart to the value of finding and connecting with and trusting other very special, supportive caretakers of the entrepreneurial spirit; Tea Silvestre and the other writers of Word Carnivals. For me, Word Carnivals came along at a time when I wasn’t blogging as regularly as I could be or getting much comment traffic, and couldn’t see what my blog could be. When I had the opportunity to connect with and read insights from such talented, creatively-diverse people on Word Carnivals, I not only felt more connected to my own creativity and value, I also formed a connection with others who shared a passion for business and following their dreams. And yes, lots of people say they want to do that and strive towards it, but who’s really living it? The carnies. And I’m so grateful to be part of the circus, each of us burning our individual matches of light, sharing our talents and insight, naturally turning into one big creative flame. So how have you been inspired by a local or online community in your own life? Share! Read more from the other carnies, here.