Finding Brand Ambassadors in Your Existing Community

feminist multiethnic female co-workers working together and taking notes on notebook in a modern and bright office

Growing a business is a team effort even if you are a solopreneur. When you have a reliable team, you can trust that they will share the responsibility of promoting your brand near and far. But, whether you have a team or not, the secret is that brand ambassadors are all around you if you know where to look. It does not matter where you live or what you do; there are people in your existing network who are ready and willing to speak your praises.

If you are looking around wondering where these people are, you might need to look outside your immediate professional network. It’s likely you have already tapped into those people and have earned referrals. But, when you step outside of that small circle, you’d be shocked to see how many people are in a position to support you and your business! So, here’s where you can start looking: 

Friends and Family

Are you loud and proud about your business when surrounded by loved ones? Do you talk about your passion and desire to share your superpower far and wide? Or do you tend to keep that part of your life separate from your circle? Stop hiding your light. These are the people who are the most inclined to refer your business to others! 

They already love you, so they will love your brand as well. So, first, tell them all about what you do and your process for creating results. Then, when they hear that an acquaintance is seeking out the services you provide, they will be quick to share your information and gush about your successes. Wouldn’t you do the same for them?

Past Clients

You’re missing out on a big referral source if you are not maintaining relationships with clients after wrapping up. Happy clients lead to positive testimonials and if they are telling all of their friends about you, you will likely hear from some of them when the time comes! 

Be intentional about building a post-client experience filled with delightful touchpoints. Don’t worry, it does not have to require a lot of time or money. Wedding professionals may consider sending a sweet anniversary gift to their couples. Artists might offer exclusive discounts or digital freebies to customers. Whatever it is, keep showing up in their inboxes and on their social media feeds to remain top-of-mind for referrals. 

Your Go-To Small Businesses

The world is a better place when small businesses support other small businesses. For example, consider all of the brands you regularly support: your favorite coffee shop, your hairstylist, your go-to fashion boutique and so on. While they may be in different industries than you, that does not mean you can’t have a mutually beneficial relationship! Here’s how: 

  • Connect with them on social media. 
  • Engage with them in person. 
  • Send referrals to other small businesses. 
  • Introduce new clients to your local coffee shop for your first meeting and, in return, they will put your business cards out by the register. 

Pro Tip: You never know the partnership opportunities until you start asking!

Complimentary Businesses

There are plenty of businesses out there for many creatives that complement your offerings without being direct competitors. For example, a photographer can connect with a professional framing business or makeup artist, whereas a florist may build a profitable relationship with a baker or a rental company. 

Not only are these businesses in the ideal position to refer you, but you can also collaborate to offer inclusive packages that enhance the client’s experience and increase revenue for both parties. It could also save you time by reducing the need for a heavy sales and marketing strategy; if a creative partner is funneling business your way, you can focus your energy on the creative work you love the most.

There is so much value in your network once you truly tap into it. Too often, the peripheral corners get overlooked when, in reality, those are some of the most powerful connections to have in your arsenal! 

Of course, referrals and partnerships do not happen overnight. You need to be intentional in your outreach and focus on cultivating real, impactful relationships with people. Don’t go into a relationship with the expectation that you will get something out of it.

Referrals and partnerships are born out of authentic connections, not transactional or self-serving purposes. Rest assured, other people can tell if you’re just in it for credit. Show the people around you that you want to help and they will return the favor tenfold. Focus on developing genuine friendships with those around you and the rest will come naturally.

Looking to connect with independent business owners in your area? Consider joining your local Rising Tide Chapter or starting a new one! 

How To Make New Connections When You Move Your Business

 

Moving to a new area is an exciting change, but one that presents many challenges especially if you’re relocating your business as well. Before you can enjoy all of the fun parts, like exploring your new stomping ground, you have to get over the hump of the actual move and get yourself situated in your new home. Relocating a business involves several moving pieces: legal considerations, market changes and an all-new network to get to know. Fortunately, there’s plenty of groundwork you can do before, during and after the move to expedite the adjustment process and begin to thrive in your new location. Moving your business and building a flourishing network can be done seamlessly with these strategies in place: 

Do Your Research Before Making Any Firm Decisions

Most moves are out of necessity rather than a whim, so you may not have a choice where you’re heading next. However, that’s no excuse not to do your due diligence before packing any boxes. Spend some time learning about the area, not just for personal reasons but also for your business. Research the cost of living and the market’s level of saturation. Then, evaluate your current business model to see if it needs to be adjusted to be competitive in your new location. Consider doing the same for neighboring cities within a few hours. You may find that the markets differ, which will influence how you enter the area and promote your brand.

 

Get Your Legalities in Order

If you are crossing state lines, you will need to take extra steps to ensure your move is legal and set yourself up for success. Whether you’re a sole proprietor or an LLC, research the local laws and complete the necessary process to become a legal entity in your new location. Set up your taxes and get your financial ducks in a row. This is not the place to cut corners! I recommend consulting with a business lawyer to ensure you’re checking off all of the right boxes.

 

Prepare Your Internal Operations

As you’re packing boxes and making phone calls, don’t forget to update all of your business information as well. Change your mailing and business addresses with your bank, credit card, online payment company, website and any subscription tools you use (like a CRM or email platform). Update your location on Google Business as well, so you can start showing up in searches in your new area. Do this as early as six months before moving to start building up your SEO and making connections in your new location. 

 

Create a System For Networking

Building a network takes intention and effort, especially when immersing yourself in a brand new market. Search Instagram by location and start following others in your market that you’d like to meet, so you can begin engaging with them even before you move. It’ll be wonderful to get there and know a few friends are waiting to meet you for coffee.

I recommend getting strategic with your networking approach by following these steps:

  • Create a spreadsheet to track the creatives you’d like to meet and collaborate with. 
  • Start your outreach and track who you’ve contacted and who has responded. 
  • Set aside a block of time on your calendar each week to reach out and introduce yourself to a few people on the list, expanding your reach slowly but surely. 

It’s worth noting that strategic networking is not about being false or calculating. Rather, it serves as an important tool to get the lay of the land and ensure you stay organized so you can meet everyone in your new area. When you’re face-to-face, your authenticity will show.

 

Attend Local Groups and Gatherings

If you can travel to your soon-to-be home before moving, make it a priority to visit and start making business connections. Start with the industry networking groups, like Rising Tide Society, ILEA, NACE, WIPA and other business groups that are active in the area. The local Chamber of Commerce is a great place to find information about the local business community. See if there are any upcoming events you can attend or virtual meetings to join from afar. Once you’re there to stay, keep up this habit as a new community member plus, you’ll already have connections for a smoother transition.

Pro Tip: Look into the local art scene. Craft fairs, music festivals, art shows and farmer’s markets are full of local artisans and creatives who are often eager to build there with networks. Plus, you get a chance to become familiar with the area and even take home some local goodies!

 

Ignore the Grapevine

Gossip has a way of making its way around, no matter where you move, so don’t give in to rumors or idle chatter. You don’t want to mistakenly rule out a great opportunity because you heard something off-hand and decided that a person, brand or business isn’t the right fit. As you enter a new market, give everyone an equal chance and you’ll be amazed at the ways people will show up to support you and your business. 

 

Balance Eagerness with Patience

It can feel intimidating to step into a market where everyone seemingly knows everyone else. As a newbie, it’s essential to get out there and be proactive in your networking approach. Don’t be shy! Introduce yourself to those you’d like to get to know and embrace your new role as a member of your community. When you are bold and passionate, you’ll find the people who will become your local business besties and your biggest cheerleaders. 

Here are a few things to remember:

  • It takes time to cultivate relationships. Be patient!
  • Avoid focusing too much on the transactional side. 
  • Focus on developing personal connections. 
  • Be generous with the people you meet. 
  • Keep showing up and encouraging others. 

 

As your network grows and your business settles into its new market, remember to enjoy the transition! Change can be scary, but you open yourself up to further personal and professional opportunities when you lean into it. They say that nothing exciting happens inside your comfort zone, so don’t be afraid to step outside and let yourself be known!

4 Reasons Why You Should Embrace Community as an Entrepreneur

It’s no secret that entrepreneurship can be a lonely road to travel. It often feels like the more dedicated we are to being our own boss and building our empires, the less we have in common with the friends we grew up with and the harder it is to explain what we do at the next family dinner. Being a part of a community, whether it’s local or online, offers support when it comes to accountability, connection, collaboration and sharing resources. Here are four reasons to embrace community as a creative entrepreneur:

Community Creates Accountability

Every Monday in my membership community, The Multi-Passionate Mastery Collective, members share one business goal they’re working on for the week, one personal goal and a mantra they’ll be using to keep them inspired and on track. The practice of sharing these goals within a community format offers inherent accountability as it no longer lives inside of a closed planner or neglected Asana board. When you’re being witnessed and held accountable for your goals, you are more likely to accomplish them.

If you don’t belong to a community at this time, follow these steps to maintain accountability: 

  • Start a group message with a few friends to share your goals at the beginning of the week. 
  • Ask your friends to hold you accountable for your goals and do the same for them. 
  • At the end of the week, circle back with your friends and see how it went.

If you are a member of a digital community or membership, make it a point to engage. It’s likely that the community has somewhere for you to post and hold yourself accountable to your goals, but if you never log on you don’t reap the rewards of belonging in that space! Pro Tip: You can also seek out local communities by staying in the loop with organizations such as Rising Tide who create pop-up events for creatives to connect IRL. 

Seek Community Connection

As with any adventure, being an independent entrepreneur comes with a fair share of successes, setbacks, highs, lows and everything in between. Having a community where you can go for genuine support and connection is what makes all the hard work bearable and worthwhile. 

Whether it’s a difficult conversation you need to have with a client or a huge opportunity that landed in your inbox, having a community to connect with is a game-changer for entrepreneurs. Join a membership community with like-minded individuals on various platforms such as:

  • Online Forums 
  • Facebook Groups 
  • Group Messaging 
  • Networking events

Collaborate with Your Community 

Collaborating with fellow entrepreneurs is one of the best ways to grow your audience, gain brand exposure and develop strong relationships. When you belong to a community there are opportunities for collaboration around every corner! Here’s how to find them:

  • Looking for a podcast guest? Share your request with your community and book quickly!  
  • Want to be a guest on a podcast? Pitch yourself inside of your community and see if you’d be a good fit.
  • Dreaming up a giveaway partnership? See if anyone in your community wants to join in.

Take action and ask for what you want, you’ll be surprised how willing people are to collaborate when it feels like a good fit. When it comes to collaborating, there’s no better place to look for partners than within your industry community. Pro Tip: Not every community is the same, so be sure to review guidelines. 

Lastly, don’t forget about word of mouth. Share what you’re working on with your friends and family. If you are looking for networking opportunities, ask if they know anyone who would be interested. You’ll be surprised what you may find!

Find Community Resources

Being an independent business owner comes with no shortage of tools, systems and software (oh my!). If you have a community that you can ask for advice from to make the best decision for your business, you can save yourself countless hours of research and trial and error.  

For example, if you’re not sure which email marketing platform to go with or are in the process of comparing various client management software for small businesses, ask your community to share their experiences so you don’t have to go down a Google rabbit hole. Additionally, sharing your resources is a great way to show up and let fellow entrepreneurs in your network know that you’ve got their back too. Accountability, connection, collaboration and sharing resources are all reasons to embrace community as a creative entrepreneur. Here are a few things to remember: 

  • You’re more likely to follow through on your goals if someone is holding you accountable.
  • Having a community will encourage you to keep going when things feel hard and remind you to celebrate.
  • You can find collaboration opportunities within your community.
  • Sharing and finding resources is one of the major benefits of being in a community.

I hope you found these tips useful and feel empowered to embrace community along your entrepreneurial journey.

Creating an Inclusive Space Within Your Business

Imagine a space where anyone regardless of their ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, language, age, ability and more can exist as their full authentic self; a diverse space fostered by a culture of inclusion where everyone belongs. 

Now imagine that you’ve created this space where your business flourishes, your employee(s), contractors and network of business contacts bring their best most authentic selves to work and your clients feel seen, understood and satisfied with the services and product you’ve provided. 

Creating a safe space within your business is necessary for continued growth and success. 

With over 20 years of experience as a multi-hyphenate woman of color working as an executive assistant and administrator in tech, I have experienced first-hand the power of fostering a culture of equity and belonging. In addition to my role as the executive assistant to the co-founders of HoneyBook, I also co-lead our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion employee resource group (ERG). 

Over the years, I have seen how employees and businesses can fail or flourish based on whether or not inclusion is valued. As an executive assistant, everyone I interact with from the CEO of HoneyBook to our newest member is a client. I see myself as a service provider and being able to create an inclusive experience with incredibly diverse clientele is what I do every day. 

Here are five ways you can create an inclusive experience for your clients and employees.   

Educate Yourself and Your Team

If you’re reading this, you’re already taking this step. This is a journey of learning that is constantly evolving. There are many different resources available to you from free blog posts, online courses, workshops, podcasts, panel discussions, Q&A sessions and so much more. Set up a cadence of continued education for you, current employees and future ones e.g. (onboarding training). 

Make a Commitment to Inclusivity

Creating inclusive experiences takes a lot of work and commitment. It may seem challenging at first, it may even feel disruptive. It’s hard work and sometimes the wins are small, but they add up. The impact it has on your business, your employees and the community you serve will be immense. Committing may look like: a public road map and accountability to the clients you serve as well as a financial commitment to ongoing education. 

Define What Inclusivity Means to You and Your Business

Set policies and guidelines and a plan for how to enforce them. Then, publish your guidelines publicly and actively share them so everyone from your contractors to your clients is on the same page. 

Pro Tip: While diversity and inclusion go hand in hand they are two very different things. Without inclusion, there is no diversity. You can have a diverse customer base, but it doesn’t mean that every one of those customers has had an inclusive experience with you and your business. 

Audit Your Business 

Deep dive into your business to ensure that what you’ve defined is practiced in every part of your business. This includes the systems and platforms you use to do business. Review your marketing materials, the language used on your websites and in your copy. Ask yourself: would anyone regardless of their ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, language, age, ability feel that they have access to your services and would be comfortable working with you?

Here are some areas to consider: 

  • Are you openly sharing and using pronouns on your website or published content? 
  • Ask for your client’s pronouns in your contact form. 
  • Have you offered other means of communication other than tech-driven conversations? 
  • Does your website reflect diversity? 
  • Do your captions on your social media videos, reels and other content?

Be accountable

If through this process you make a mistake, own it, apologize for it and take action to make sure it never happens again. Let me be clear though so you don’t feel like giving up if you make a mistake: you will likely make a mistake.

You might not make the same one twice, but there will be mistakes along the way. Communities are dynamic and evolve (sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly). This means we should be open to continued opportunities to learn and grow to better serve the spaces we facilitate and occupy.

Taking these steps to create inclusive experiences is fearless, empowering and necessary

When we shift the way we do business and take chances we impact the industries we work in and create tangible change. By empowering ourselves to make these changes, we encourage others to show up as their full authentic selves.

This is your opportunity to make a difference and help create a more diverse and inclusive world. If you ever have questions or need support, reach out. There’s a whole community waiting to support you.