Starting my first business was overwhelming. Like many others out there, I was plagued with imposter syndrome and the fear of how on earth I was ever going to run a company, let alone one that would even make a profit.
As we see more and more women start to rise up into senior positions and embark on the creation of their own businesses, it’s more important than ever to find a way to get the support and encouragement needed to stay on an upward trajectory to success.
Business can be a lonely place
Especially if you’re the one sitting at the top – but it’s important to know that you don’t have to face things alone. There are a number of ways to connect with like-minded people who really understand what you may be going through and who can give you that ‘high-five’ you deserve when your career or business is going gangbusters. That bit of recognition goes a long way to keeping you going on the darkest of days when things aren’t going to plan.
Finding your tribe of people can seem like a daunting task, especially if you are an introvert by nature and the thought of meeting new people makes you want to retreat back to your office and hide under the desk!
But if I had known there were so many resources available at the start of my journey, those first few years would have been a lot easier.
Here are my five easy tips you can do this month to build your community around you:
- Network, network, network
The first time I was invited to a networking event I felt myself immediately shy away at the thought of standing in the middle of a room talking to a group of strangers. Why on earth would they be interested in anything I had to say? Thanks to a good friend dragging me along, I spent an hour meeting incredible people from a range of different industries and left feeling exhilarated with a handful of new connections, and people I would go on to call friends.
Networking isn’t for everyone, but pushing myself out of my comfort zone was the catalyst that led to the improvement of my confidence, and taking on more challenges with less fear and doubt in my mind.
- Join a facilitated program
Do your research and find a program that resonates with you and what you are hoping to achieve. Having a confidential platform to share experiences and business updates gives you the opportunity to talk to people outside of your circle; people who may have been through the same struggles previously that can help, or simply understand on a deep level what you are going through.
After being in business for four years with my partner, we had a rhythm and way of thinking that was confined to the areas of experience we had acquired over the years. Opening up the circle to include seven new people with seven different backgrounds was a game changer. Hearing of stories where others had tried and failed, or tried and succeeded, gave us new ideas to experiment in our own business and keep the business fresh.
- Join online groups
When we think of social or professional media sites, most would associate these with individual profile sharing, status updates, photographs, news and the like. However, it can be a valuable resource for connecting with other people in groups specifically talking about topics relevant to whatever area of business or life you are interested in. Some groups have in excess of 60,000 people all posting questions or information about a variety of topics that you can participate in and share perspectives on. Some even have regular meet ups too, offering another platform to go out and meet others in your local town or city.
- Attend conferences and events
On any given week, there is generally a conference or event running somewhere in your nearest city, tackling a range of business topics relevant to you and your career. They offer you an opportunity to connect with colleagues in your industry, and a way to develop new professional relationships to assist you in the progression of your career or business.
- Find a mentor
When you meet someone that you admire and look up to, someone who has wisdom and advice that you know could really help you on your journey, go ahead and ask them if they would mind catching up with you for a coffee every once in a while. The worst they can say is no. Over the years I have been lucky enough to meet some wonderful people who have had incredible careers in a variety of industries and their generosity in sharing their learnings has been invaluable. Next time you meet someone that ticks this box for you, work hard on establishing a relationship and you’ll be surprised what a difference it will make to your life.
Don’t delay! Pick one or all of these ideas and add them to your ‘to-do’ list today. We get so busy in our working lives that at times, we forget to put ourselves first. Remember, ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’!