|Animal Prints by Sharon Montrose|
I have just finished up two very intense learning experiences - the Craftcation conference in Ventura, California and my own 2-day workshop in San Francisco. Even though I spoke and led at both events, I learned so much as well from attending, teaching and talking to others. I’ve been thinking about personal interaction quite a bit as I make a slow orbit from store owner (lots of casual face time) to consulting (lots of computer time) to teaching (small intense bouts of face time).
With so many online resources at your fingertips today - tutorials, podcasts, eCourses and the like - you might wonder why an in-person class is necessary at all. I think that, for me, the answers are congruity and happenstance. Even if I script and lead a live session, what happens when I interact with participants cannot be entirely anticipated. Most often, the group comes together and spurs each other on to greater heights than I could achieve no matter how fantastic an online presentation I might create.
At Craftcation, I was part of a great group dinner with some extremely funny people, all makers and creative professionals. At some point, everyone was guessing each others’ Myers Briggs profiles and most of the table classified as introverts. I think we introverts get a bad rap; we aren’t hermits, we just reflect on our internal state quite a bit. Even so, I love hearing the opinions of others, even if I do not always contribute to the conversation at hand.
Therefore, creative introverts, I advise you to get out of your house or studio and attend lectures or workshops, if you can. A lot of people hide behind their computer screens but every so often, it is good to be present. You meet your peers, compare notes, and you learn from others.
This goes for the selling side of a your creative business as well. It can really pay off, if you sell online or via wholesale, to try and physically get in front of your customer base. Set up a table at a craft fair or hold a trunk show. You will gain tremendous knowledge about your customers which will help you shape or revise your customer personas and you will also have the chance to connect with them on a personal level. Your story is a huge part of your business and public appearances give you a chance to become even more memorable.
If you are a maker and need more support from your peer group, I also suggest Meetups, joining a local Etsy team, attending a Church of Craft in your town, or even just getting a bunch of friends together once a month for drinks or brunch. There are many more resources for online interaction but personal interaction is like nothing else!
What are the ways you keep in touch with your peers and your customers? Do you have a group of people you can bounce ideas off of?
Rena Tom is a retail strategist for creative business owners. Rena blogs about personal projects as well as retail trends and small business tips at renatom.net. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and baby boy in an apartment filled with too many laptops, Sprecher root beer, half-finished craft projects and overdue library books. Look out for her new e-book, Retail Readiness coming soon!