2019 was really when I really started to work on developing and strengthening my local community relationships. I live in a small town, and it’s a great little town. Mind you, I’ve only lived in this community since 2015, so I haven’t had a lifetime of getting to know these local folk.
The holiday season of 2019 was the first time I participated as a vendor in local craft shows. I set up a Cat G Design booth and sold my paper earrings and studs. I had a lot of fun, made some money, got all excited about 2020 craft shows I was going to be in…..and then we all give a little chuckle. Raise your hand if you are really missing even going to craft shows. And fiber festivals!! My god, I miss the fiber festivals and my yarn buddies.
Anyways, 2020 hit and I was out of work for a few months. Since I couldn’t really hang out with people in my community, I turned online (like the rest of the world) and really worked on building relationships with other crafters and small business owners. I really dug into my papercraft jewelry collection and it was nice to be able to participate in midday entrepreneurial virtual gatherings, which I’d always been curious about. I met so many awesome makers and entrepreneurs, relationships that have only grown since quarantine.
In the beginning of a business owner’s journey, is the urgent need to have social media follower numbers. Build those numbers up as fast as possible! Over time, if you’re smart, you learn to build meaningful relationships, and be much more selective about who you follow. Sure, your personal interests should be sprinkled throughout, because those interests make up who you are, and that’s what people want to see. But hone in on those businesses and people who really speak to your passion, who will understand your business struggles.
You build up community with give and take. Be a good neighbor. Be a good friend. Be a good coworker. Just be a good person, and you will be surprised at the business opportunities that come your way. You become known for a certain something with just a few people, and that knowledge can spread throughout your community. But remember- it’s a two way road. Invest in your community and it will invest back in you.