Starting an online business can be an exciting but also challenging journey. It can be easy to get lost in the many details like streamlining your services, developing your marketing strategy, or building your website (which, if you need help with that, just let us know!). However, one of the most important factors that can often be overlooked is the power of connection.
As we celebrate our 6th business anniversary, we looked back at the things that have helped us forward, and have made a mark in Stargazed’s business journey. And making connections was at the core of it all!
As an online business owner, it doesn’t take long to feel isolated and alone. Without the daily interactions and support of colleagues and coworkers, it’s difficult to stay motivated and on track–and that’s why building connections is so important! Connection can provide support, accountability, and more.
We actually spent day one of our anniversary celebration week this year (2023) attending the first in-person-networking event of the year for us! What we have for you today doesn’t require you to leave your home though: we’ll go over different ways to make connections that can provide you community and support, just from your computer.
How we’ve made business connections
There are a lot of different ways, but today we want to cover three simple ones that will allow you to meet people you can relate to and thus, connect easier to:
- Through free Facebook communities
- Through paid programs
- Through coffee chats
These three ways works at any part of your business journey, but they also can build on each other. So let’s dive a bit into each one. And because it’s our anniversary, we also want to go through memory lane and show you some specific examples of how we found support and connection through specific ways!
1. Make Connections through Facebook Communities
When I, Sara, first started freelancing in 2016 (this business was officially registered early 2017), Facebook communities where a BIG thing. And even though social media has changed a lot since then, communities are still relevant and can provide you a lot of support and connection.
Here are a few examples of free communities we are part of, that might interest you too:
- Holistic Digital Marketing Strategies
- Creative Design Society
- Marketer’s Heart – Rise of Integrity & Purpose in Marketing
- Digital Nomad Girls Community
Another place to find FB communities that apply to your needs and interests is to look at the people you follow on Instagram or the newsletter you read, and see if they offer any type of free community. I follow multiple business owners, for example, that offer a FB community to their clients. But to be considered a client you don’t necessarily have to spend money on their paid offers, just downloading one of their free lead magnets gives you access to their community! So look around to see if the businesses you follow already offer a community where you can create connections.
2. Make connections through Paid Programs
Cameron often jokes that I pay to make friends. But you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that! After all, people often pay to be parts of clubs or take hobby classes–so paying to be in a membership and making friends in there is not that strange.
There is a huge range of paid programs: from 10 USD / month membership, to 1:1 coaching programs in the thousands. So you don’t necessarily need to pay a lot of money to get access to a paid community. And the thing about paid programs is that everyone is paying to be there, so everyone is more committed to be there! That means more people show up, more people want support, and more want to stay accountable. So there is usually more engagement in this type of communities.
Here are some examples of how we made great business connections through programs. These are not all the programs and communities we have been in, but they stand out for particular reasons we list below.
- Jana Works – Mentorship
A few months after starting my business, I was accepted into this program. This mentorship was my first experience with connecting with a mentor, surrounding myself with people that were in similar spots as I was (just starting a business), and receiving support for a lot of steps that were ahead of me, but that I wasn’t sure how to navigate. We had 1:1 sessions with Jana to go over our individual business progress, and group sessions as well to go over topics that applied to all of the mentorship participants. Later it also provided work opportunities for us, as Jana would contract us to do work for her clients, that way we’d get experience, testimonials, and paid clients–things that motivate you a lot when starting.
*I actually didn’t have to pay for this mentorship, but depending on the type, some mentorships are paid. In this case, I received the mentoring sessions in exchange of work I did for Jana.
- The Inspired Pro / The Inner Circle – Membership
A year and a half after starting my business, and after having worked a lot as a sub-contractor, I decided I wanted to get more control of who I worked with, and what type of projects I did. I decided to join the Inspired Pro, a program specific for designers, where we were trained and mentored by Cathy Olson (nowadays one the Funnel Gorgeous founders). Once the Inspired Pro program was finishing, Cathy created a program to follow it up: The Inner Circle, which I joined as well. It is massive how much you can learn when you can have a role model in your industry. Thanks to Cathy my perspective of what I could achieve as a designer went beyond anything I had imagined. Besides, it was great to connect to fellow designers and learn more about collaboration over competition. The Inner Circle also provided me with my first-ever in-person design retreat, which was amazing!
- Jennica Collado – 1:1 Coaching
One of my Mentorship sisters became a coach a while after our mentorship together, and her specialty was helping highly sensitive introverts in business. I was in the middle of discovering the power of being a INFJ and highly sensitive, and it was great to have her support me during a couple of months while I figured how to implement my new superpowers into my business! She also offered a free Facebook community that I was a part of, and from learning there from here I decided to hire her for more in-depth, personalized work.
- Streamline. Design. Profit. – Program
This program is self-paced nowadays, but back when I joined it was a live program with not only a ton of guidance and resources to streamline your business, but also a community and weekly calls with Erin Flynn, the founder. Once again, it is so great to have someone in the same industry as you to learn from! They have often been in the exact same situations you have been, and can help you get out of where you are. Also, connecting with other web designers and working on collaboration vs competition applies here as well! For a long while it was my go-to place to find web designers for other platforms.
- Use Your Voice – Mastermind
Early 2020 I joined this mastermind, lead by Cassandra Le of the Quirky Pineapple Studio, knowing I wanted to play bigger that year with my business. But as the world took a weird turn because of the pandemic, this mastermind became even more than a place to learn about our brand voice and using it in our business. It became like a sort of support group while we were all living through new and strange life experiences, while also working on our business. We had our regular business-minded sessions, but we also started having “off the clock” meetings to socialize, play, and learn together about issues outside our businesses. And being in this mastermind started the big business redesign we had in 2020, which ended in a much more aligned business.
- Done in a Day – Program
After working so hard on redesigning our whole brand message, we shifted our focus to bringing our services to the next level as well, and that’s when we joined this program we had been eyeing. Done in a Day can be taken self-paced, but again, if what you want is the community and support, you need the full program! Weekly calls, access to multiple coaches with different specialties, and a community to connect with others–and even after the program is over, you get multiple events every year for alumni. The community is amazing, and we’ve made long-lasting connections through it.
Current communities we are in:
- Agency Insiders – Membership
I wanted to be part of a designers community again, so I joined this one hosted by Brittany Miller, one of my friends from The Inspired Pro. Like I’ve mentioned, there’s just something about being in a community that is specifically for your trade / industry!
- Digital Nomad Girls – Membership
This community is a great space, especially if you’re looking to connect with more multicultural backgrounds! I joined this community in the summer of 2021, and don’t see me ever leaving. I have made great connections there, like an accountability partner that I meet up with every two weeks, for over a year now! And it provides a space to experiment with fun stuff, like I get to host a co-working session weekly focused on doing “scary things” we’ve been procrastinating–and that co-working session helps me meet and connect with the other members as well! So there are multiple sessions every week for co-working, learning, celebrating, and more. It’s just a great place in general for people working remotely.
- Introvertpreneur Club – Membership
I mean, there is one obvious reason I’m attracted to this membership: we’re all introverts here! Tara provides lots of resources and a monthly call, but what made me renew this membership was the community. It’s just a great place where you can relate easy to people, receive advice that usually feels applicable (you know, with extroverts sometimes the advice does not work…), and it is just a nice, chill vibe!
- The Magic of You Unleashed – Program
This is a 6-week program which provides me with a coach and a community while I do some inner-work on myself and my businesses to serve my audience even better. And I’ve loved it, because Ruth Poundwhite provides a great safe space where you can be vulnerable, talk about mindsets and blocks that are sometimes hard to talk about, and there is absolutely 0 judgement. So, even though it’s short-term, it provides a lot of support and connection.
3. Make Connections through Coffee Chats
As introverts, big groups are not easy for us–we rarely actually make lasting connections that way. Yet we attend multiple networking events a month when possible–why?
Well, because after being part of a community event or conversation, we try to follow up with a few of the attendants and offer to have a coffee chat together. Coffee chats are simple meetings with no pitching or no brain-picking, so you can focus on actually connecting! And even though you can do them in person, since we connect with people from all over the world, we usually offer to host these via Zoom.
It’s a great way to actually meet people!
We reach out to people and invite them to coffee chats after having met through one of many different ways:
- People at online or in-person networking events (or conferences, or summits!)
- People in paid communities we are a part of
- People on free Facebook groups–you can literally just write a post inside a community saying you want to connect! Make sure to include that you don’t want to pitch your services, or get pitched. And offer a link to a scheduler, so other people in the community can make an appointment with you online and get to know you.
- People on social media–there’s someone on Instagram you resonate a lot with? Send them a DM, tell them why you resonate with their content, and ask if they’d like to have a face-to-face conversation via Zoom to get to know each other and your businesses better!
Really, you can invite anyone to a coffee chat! And this way of meeting people is way more memorable.
So, we hope this gives you some ideas of how and where you can find support and connection for your business. Whether it’s a community, a coach, a mentor, an accountability buddy, or just other business owners who get it–look for a place that provides what you need!
We truly believe that behind each great business owner, is a great support system!
And that’s why these investments of time, and sometimes money, are important for us.
But remember you don’t always need to invest money in order to find connection! If you are just starting out, you can focus on creating connections through free Facebook groups, through the people you talk to the most on Instagram, or see if the people with newsletters you enjoy have some sort of free community. The important thing is that you are open to connect!
If you are looking to dive into your head and figure out what type of connections you need right now, we recommend you check out our Connecting through Journaling course. It includes six prompts all around connection, to help you determine where you are in your business, and what type of connection will help you get to where you want to go next. Enjoy!