Sometimes when you're busy working your wholehearted creative business, you get so focused on the work and play that comes with it, but you look around and realize that you're doing it all alone. Today I want to encourage you to
I feel like a mom instructing her child on his first day in a new school. But being an entrepreneur can be lonely sometimes. Even if you have a huge network of friends and family around you, it's so helpful to have friends in your industry. You can encourage and support each other, offer advice and give constructive criticism.
I've made some pretty great friends over the years in my creative journey. In case this is an area you're struggling with, here are a few ways I've found to make friends in my creative business:
1. Online: Follow and comment.
When you find someone you admire online, look up all their social media. You're not stalking; you're getting to know them (and they want you to, that's why it's there!). Sometimes when you follow and find out more about someone, don't you have this thought, "I like this person! She seems like someone I would hang out with."
The best way to begin is to leave a comment. Pick your social media of choice. Follow on Facebook and leave a comment on a post that speaks to you, or do the same on Instagram. If you read their blog and something resonates, let her know in the comments. Same with Youtube. I'm not as savvy on Twitter, but I think you can like a tweet they've posted, retweet, or mention them in your own tweet.
You can start with a compliment on what they've posted. Let them know you like it and why. Keep it short and simple. If they already have a large following, you may not hear anything back. That's ok. Move on to someone else. You can keep liking their posts and even comment here and there, but don't get discouraged if they don't respond personally to you.
Another way to make friends through social media is to pay attention to what others are saying in the comments. You may actually find a friend who is another follower of the one you admire. You already have something in common, because you're both drawn to that person. Maybe someone will make a comment that is exactly what you were going to say, or you find their comment to be witty or amusing. Mention them in a comment and see where it goes.
If you're ever in a class that has a Facebook group or you're watching a live video with chat turned on, you can make friends that way. You can find out where people are from, and you may discover someone near you that you'd like to connect with.
When I'm feeling especially brave, sometimes I reach out via email. I find the contact page and just send an email letting the person know what resonated with me, thank them for a vulnerable post that made an impact, or just say hello if I feel compelled. You can also reply when you receive an email newsletter. Again, you may not always get a response, but I bet you never know if you don't try!
2. In real life: Workshops, retreats and fairs.
I've mentioned before that I made a goal a few years ago to attend at least one creative retreat or workshop each year. I find it so refreshing to get out in the creative community with other like minded people, to learn something new, or just have the opportunity to meet people and play.
I'm an introvert, so this isn't always easy. I love going to conferences and can be totally content sitting by myself, watching what's going on. I'm ok with small talk, but I'm also ok being alone and just soaking it all in. When I go to these things, I sometimes push myself to strike up conversations, and often, I leave with a new friend.
This is what happened last month at Gathering of Artisans. I told my sister about the event, and she decided to attend also, but I had signed up for an extra day of classes and arrived a day early. When I checked in, I was told that some of the attendees would meet up to go to dinner that first night. I went to my room and considered just staying in, to do some art journaling and enjoy the time to relax. Instead, I decided to venture out and be social. I'm so glad I did! I went to dinner with seven awesome ladies. We enjoyed good food and great conversation. It was so nice to connect with other creatives with the same passions. Our work is different, and we were all different ages and from different states, but we so enjoyed our time together and have kept in touch since.
I can't fly across the country or attend creative retreats on a monthly basis or anything, but after Gathering, my sister (who lives a five minute walk from me) and I decided to continue to get together to do creative things, and we joined a mixed media art class. Now we're getting together weekly (because even though we live so close, with busy schedules, we don't get together unless we're intentional about it), and we're out in the creative community making new connections and friends. My 20 year old daughter is in class with us too.. so fun!
Another way to make friends in real life is by attending (or participating in) craft fairs and art shows. Walk around and see what other people are making. Talk to them about their work. Find out where they're from, and what other shows they are doing. Take their business card. You may make new friends at these events.
Working as a wholehearted creative can be lonely sometimes. You pour your heart and soul into your work. But it's important to make friends along the way. Reaching out, while uncomfortable at first, may lead to lifelong friendships. You may find someone you really connect with and want to collaborate with in some way. Or have someone to travel and attend creative retreats with. Being an entrepreneur doesn't have to be lonely. Sometimes you just have to be brave and make the first move.