photo by our wedding photographers, the amazing Kelly + Sergio Photography
I have lived in Mesa, Arizona for 14 years. And I am embarrassed to say that until I launched the campaign for my new small business space, I had NO idea how many amazing opportunities I was overlooking by not connecting with my local community.
Within hours of launching the campaign, I heard from other startup founders, incubators, community leaders and government officials. I was flooded with suggestions about groups to connect with, and people to talk to.
All were amazing people and organizations that are highly complementary to my business offerings.
And yet FOR 14 YEARS, I never considered reaching out until I started this project.
The “everywhere but here” trap
When I started my blog in 2005, I was excited by the promise of connecting with clients and friends all over the world. Who doesn’t want to sit in their jammies in the living room and serve a global audience?
The more I connected with people from various locations, the more excited I became about my ability to impact change all over the world.
I was flattered every time I got asked to speak in Chicago, or New York, or Fargo.
I spent a lot of time on the phone and on Skype. And many hours on planes, traveling to different locations.
Meanwhile, I was overlooking a huge opportunity right in my own backyard: my local community.
Instead of “local OR global,” why not “local AND global?”
I cherish the tens of thousands of people I have connected with over the past decade of working on the Internet. I will never quit you all!
But I am seeing that I was creating an artificial dichotomy — either I had a strong global presence, or I had a strong local presence.
I now see how it is possible to do both.
I realize that you may live in a remote location with few local opportunities. Or maybe your business is such that your local market is not ideal for your product or service.
Even if you don’t think there is much happening locally, experiment a little bit.
You may find, like I have, that abundant opportunities are right in your backyard!
6 Quick ways to find local opportunities
- Tell your friends, neighbors, gym mates, school parents, sports parents, and dog park parents what you do for a living, and ask them what they do for theirs!
Admit it, how many people you talk to every day have any idea what you do for a living? We get so used to talking about the weather, the news, sports and the overload of homework that we forget to make it clear what we do. You don’t have to be obnoxious about it, just slip it into conversation when it is most natural. After knowing a fellow school parent for 2 years, who I assumed was a stay at home Mom since she often volunteered in the classroom during working hours, I finally asked her what she did. I found out she was an pilot for US Airways! Boy did I feel silly.
- Look for local networking groups on Meetup.com
There are big groups of cool people on Meetup.com that meet about every topic you can imagine. Put your zip code in the search engine, and see what comes up!
- Google variations of “(your target audience) associations + (your home city)”
You may find a whole host of associations and groups who are made up of ideal clients and partners. Sort through the listings, and target the top 3-5 associations you want to reach out to first. Each month, add a few new groups to introduce yourself to.
- Drop by your local coworking space
More and more cities have co-working spaces, from local independent facilities like our Co+hoots, to larger enterprises like WeWork.com. All kinds of collaboration, ideas and connections happen in these spaces.
- Use Thumbtack.com to search for local professionals.
By doing a quick search on “Top Career Coaches in Mesa, Arizona,” I found a group of amazing peers who live within 10 miles of my new location. Guess who was NOT in that list? (Yes, me! Because I have never focused on listing my services locally, duh!)
- Tell local service providers what you do
When you have your favorite plumber, painter, pest control or carpet cleaner visit your house, tell them what you do! They are in hundreds of homes a year, and if they are chatting with a client who mentions they are looking for someone who provides your service, they will recommend you! (Pro tip: recommend them too — great people appreciate referrals, like my favorite carpet cleaner George from Paradise Carpet Cleaning who has scores of 5-star Yelp Reviews)
Let’s Accelerate Small Business in Mesa, AZ Indiegogo Campaign News: 7 days in, 26% raised, 74% to go! 22 days left in the campaign!
I have been so thrilled with the love and support coming from all over the world for our K’é crowdfunding campaign. I appreciate all of your contributions, shares and words of encouragement!
My vision for this space is that it becomes a source of connection, inspiration, utility and ACTION as we grow the small business market in Mesa, and around the world. This project, by its definition, is much bigger than me personally. I need the support of my broader community in order to make this a powerful, self-sustaining center of excellence.
Your contribution will allow us to invest in furniture for local classes, and equipment for our virtual streaming classes so that we provide top-notch, accessible and action-oriented education to small business owners everywhere. As early investors, you will get access to this top-notch education at a fraction of the cost. The $100 level includes a live streamed 3 hour virtual book retreat where I will share everything I have learned about writing and selling books.
I know we can raise the money, but there are days where I get a little anxious. Could you take a minute to check out the campaign and invest what you can? Every single dollar is appreciated!
Thank you for contributing today! Go here to check out the campaign.
Do you have ideas for people to connect with, unique ways to fundraise, etc? Hit reply and let me know, I am open to all ideas!