WHY YOUR MAKING NEEDS YOU TO SHOW UP EVEN IF NO ONE ELSE DOES.
I’m still smiling from the e-mail message I received from one of my treasured mentors this morning. In it, she congratulated me on filling my writing workshop that begins tonight. She acknowledged how I “busted my butt” to manifest it.
As business owners, we spend a lot of time busting our butts, hoping it will bear fruit in the form of filled workshops and appointment calendars. It takes time to build a community where we can launch our offers.
And so, in an effort to deconstruct this particular butt-busting process for you, I’d like to invite you to join me to travel back in time a few weeks. I think you’ll find this story helpful as a conversation-starter about community-building that you can apply to your own creative business.
Back in mid-March, I reserved a meeting room for a 4-week series that didn’t materialize. This was on the heels of a successful 8-week intensive program, and I think people were ready for a break.
As you can probably imagine, I was disappointed. In fact, I was moments away from cancelling the room rental when I had an idea. I wondered, what might happen if, instead of cancelling, I showed up in the space anyway? I had already blocked out the time and energy, why not show up?
This idea had appeal to me. I wanted the energy of community, so I figured out an alternative plan. Instead of offering my original program, I created a more spacious agenda: 90 minutes of open creative work time. I invited people to bring a project to work on and a small donation to cover the cost of room rental and refreshments.
My plan worked! These four creative work sessions were well-attended. Some people came to all four sessions, while others came only once or twice. Each week, our mini-creative community had a slightly different shape and vibe. Each week, the room was filled with sounds of clicking keyboards and scribbling pens. And each week, participants thanked me for the opportunity to simply show up and get some creative work done.
By the time my next workshop offering rolled around in late April, people had warmed to this mini-community that had formed, and my workshop filled.
So what did I learn from this experience?
Hold the space. Infuse it with love and positive intent. Hold loosely but fiercely. Don’t give up.
Keep inviting. Ask your friends and clients to invite their friends and clients. Ask again. Envision the community forming in the ethers. Create a mini-altar that represents the people in your community. I like to create circles of stones on the petals of my lotus candle.
Be consistent. Be reliable as a leader. Show up when you say you will, even if you’re not sure anyone is coming. Most importantly, show up for yourself.
Let go of expectations. Keep the faith. People will come. Stay open. Sometimes the community forms in a way we weren’t expecting.
Be a sponge. As people begin showing up, be a sponge. Listen to the way they describe their challenges and struggles. Create offerings that meet those needs.
These are things I am learning as I build my practice, yet I think they can be adapted to all types of community-building efforts for your unique type of business. Try applying these ideas to communities you’re building online, in social media, or local in-person offerings. Hold the space, spread the word, and keep the faith. And please, don’t give up!
Do you show up for your creativity and making, ready to embrace whatever it has for you?
What would happen if you just chose to show up?
Kim Evans helps female entrepreneurs voice their authentic creativity and build a beautiful brand that resonates. Read more about her & catch up on her latest blog post here.