If you are interested in sustainable business or social entrepreneurship, then you’ve probably made the rounds to various networking events and conferences where you shook hands and made small talk, and then returned home with a pile of business cards from people you couldn’t remember. Maybe you attended a meeting or two where you were bombarded with sales pitches, or worse yet, nobody spoke to you at all.
When I started my online business in 2015, I needed to expand my circle of friends and influencers. I had spent a decade working in academics, and I was trying to pivot my career into business coaching for health and wellness entrepreneurs. I visited many groups like my local Chamber of Commerce, Business Network International (BNI), and National Association of Professional Women (NAPW). While these groups had their merits and benefits, I never really felt “at home.” I didn’t walk away from events with the contacts or support system that I needed to help me grow.
I quickly realized that conscious community is different from regular professional relationships. What we do is networking, but what we crave is belonging. So, I asked myself: Where can I find the people who understand conscious business? Where are the entrepreneurs who want to collaborate instead of compete? Is there a group of business owners who share my values and ethics? After about a year of searching, I found what I was looking for in the 108 Collective.
Maybe you are also looking for conscious community and you don’t know where to start. Here are my top 3 tips for finding your tribe:
1. Think Top Down instead of Bottom up
When I was looking for groups to join, I was focused on the members rather than the leaders. I was searching for people like me who wanted to work together and support each other. While the members are obviously important, it’s the leadership that has turned out to be the true key to my success. I finally found a conscious business leader who had a message that resonated with me, and then I joined his group. I believe the leader sets the tone, ethos, and rules of engagement that make a group rise or fall. I suggest finding a conscious leader who inspires you and then join her community. A great way to discover conscious leaders (besides CONSCIOUS COMPANY, of course) is via podcasts or books. Thought leaders who are sharing valuable content are usually also teaching master classes or running business collectives.
2. Look for Quality over Cost
I attended a few events and conferences during the past two years that were expensive and well-produced. The speakers were accomplished and admired. The attendees were popular and influential. I thought that the more I spent, the more value I would get. It was great to be surrounded by important people, but the cost did not guarantee that I got what I needed for my business. Just because there is a big price to join a community doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the right fit for you. Sometimes, an informal mastermind group that meets at a local coworking space is more valuable than an expensive conference. You don’t have to break the bank to find your tribe. You just need to connect with the conscious entrepreneurs who understand your mission and share your commitment to grow.
3. Take Your Time
It can be very lonely to be an entrepreneur and you may be anxious to join a group quickly. I know that I was in a big hurry to surround myself with like-minded people. Every day I was coaching women through difficult situations, but I didn’t have anyone to turn to and share my unique challenges and concerns. Now that I have a strong support system, not only do I have more clarity and confidence, but I have more insight to share with my clients. If you are looking for a conscious community, it’s going to take some time to find the right one for you. Business people are everywhere, but conscious business people are rare. Try to be patient and take your time as you explore the options that are available to you. You’ll be happy that you didn’t settle once you find your tribe.