Whether you live in a big city, or a small town, have lived there forever, or are brand new, creating camaraderie with others like you is very important, and possible! I moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to Bend, Oregon about a year ago, and have already found my people (sorry, I am for some reason opposed to the word tribe). Knowing that I was leaving the proximity of the Creative Business League behind in geography (I still Skype in for monthly meetings and attend the twice yearly in-person retreats), I knew I wanted to find an existing creative business group, or create my own. Here are the steps I followed, hopefully they help guide you to your own group.
Step 1: Search for maker spaces, groups, co-working locations, etc. on Facebook
In my initial search, I found out that Bend has a whole geographical area called, Bend's Makers District - it is an industrial area where a lot of small businesses of have their workspaces and/or retail shops. I emailed and connected with one of the makers who told me that they have bi-monthly meetings, and even though I didn't have a space in the Makers District, I could attend those meetings to start to create a community for myself. About a month or two before I moved, I found out that a new co-working space, The Wilds, aimed at creatives, was opening in Bend. I 'liked' their page on Facebook and was on the lookout for any social gatherings they were going to have that were open to the public. Right after I moved, The Wilds had a Holiday Open House, so I went, by myself.
Here is where I will interject that on order to create your business group, you may need to do a few things out of your comfort zone. Networking is never that easy, but I am a firm believer in going to events like this one on your own - it forces you to talk with people, and you're not as intimidating to others because you are solo, not in a large, unapproachable group. I also believe that there is always someone else out there like you, maybe even a few people, looking for a connection.
I met quite a few people at The Wilds that night, and I knew I was on to something. So now I had two places to call on in order to start forming this business group.
Step 2: Show up and make yourself useful
I started to go to the Bend's Makers District meetings on a regular basis, and offered my services where I could. I was a recognizable face, and I was starting to understand who the Makers were and if any had a need for a business group. The Wilds has monthly artist receptions, and I made it a point to go to all of them. There, I met more and more creatives, and really started to see the need for a business group. I even started teaching business and craft classes at The Wilds.
Step 3: Put it out there
I knew all along I wanted to create a business group in Bend, I just wasn't sure how or when it would take shape. One day, one of the women from The Wilds commented on Facebook how she was kicking ass and taking names, but it was also leaving her too busy to attend certain events, and I called her a #bossbabe. Another woman from The Wilds commented, and I said something to the effect of, let's start a business group. And we were off. Immediately I got the response that others had been thinking the same thing, and a couple of us picked a date and met to start planning. #BendBossBabes was born. It truly was as simple as that. People are always looking for community - truth.
Step 4: Plan a meeting
For our first meeting, we decided it would be best to keep it pretty informal. We wanted people to feel comfortable and to get to know what everyone wanted from the group. I hosted, and it was a bit like a cocktail party. We had some paper on the walls with some prompts for people to write down "What's a Bend Boss Babe To You?", "How Can Bend Boss Babes Serve You?", and "Services Offered/Help Wanted".
Step 5: Continue to have meetings on a regular basis
Continuity will be a big role in making sure that your business group survives. The CBL has monthly meetings, but maybe you start out with every other month. See what works for your group. The Bend Boss Babes are having our next meeting in a couple weeks, and people seem excited. Stay tuned!