Weekly-ish notes on navigating big change


Grace Dobush on making the most of craft conferences


My guest today is freelance journalist and organizer of the Crafty Supermarket and Midwest Craft Con, a conference for crafty businesses, Grace Dobush.

We talk about: 
Grace's favorite part of organizing a craft show
How to talk to strangers at conferences (without feeling weird)
What she's enthusiastic about right now (and the similarity between geeky sub-cultures)



How to listen

Find all the podcast episodes here.

What to say when “networking”

What to say when networking

Does it feel awkward when you meet your potential customers? Not sure what to say or how to hand them your business card? I know! It can be weird! Last week a client asked me what she should be doing at conferences and meet-ups filled with her potential clients. She loved my answer so much I decided to share it with you!

In this episode I'll teach you:

  • What exactly to say at an event.
  • When to hand the other person your business card (it's not what you think!).
  • How to follow up and turn the contact into a customer.

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

Talking about your work shouldn't be scary – it should come easily. Sign up below to learn more about my class, Craft Your Marketing, where you'll learn how to make a marketing plan that fits your personality and your business. Plus, I'll send you some great lessons + tips that you can apply right away to make your next networking opportunity go smoothly!



Be Awesome Offline

Today I'm super excited to have a guest post at BeAwesomeOnline.com.
It's all about being awesome offline: networking events, craft shows, etc. Here's the first bit of it, but you can read the whole thing here.

You are awesome online. You are rocking it. Your awesomeness is shining through everywhere from your About page to your Twitter stream.

But what about the untested waters of the offline world? Are you awesome there?

Or are you hiding behind your website? Terrified of meeting someone in person, afraid you’ll morph into a salesy slimeball who hands someone their business card and says, “Call me, baby.”?

Going offline can feel like that dream where you show up naked for school.

I am an pj-wearing, home-loving hermit. Most of my business is online. My relationships, my work, my helpfulness: it all happens online. But when I quit my dayjob, I knew that to really grow, I would need to start serving branch out and come out from behind the screen.

Before I did my first craft show, I never talked about my business in person. I told people I worked in HR (my dayjob) and had no idea what to tell them about my online alter ego. What would I say? Without the filter of my website, how could I explain what I did?

In person, I’m just me. No fancy graphics. No carefully crafted pages. No tried-50-times-to-get-this-one-picture first impressions. Just me.

Without the buffer of my website and my carefully chosen words and my perfectly focused pictures, it felt a little naked.

But it can be awesome.

Offline, you see the joy in someone’s eyes as they gasp at your lovingly handmade item.
Offline, you feel that immediate click when someone really gets you.
Offline, clients can sip coffee with you, show you pictures of their family, light up when you zap their problem.

Since that first pre-craft-show jitter I’ve peddled yarn at shows across the country, organized classes for wannabe-knitters and taught hundreds of one-on-one, in-person lessons. I’ve even met some of my online friends for a coffee.  All without losing my clothes or sweating through them.

And I learned that going offline can actually be fun, if you keep a few things in mind.

Get the rest of the article and 3 tips for taking your awesomeness Offline over at BeAwesomeOnline.com.

Asking for it

Yesterday we talked a little about being enough. Part of knowing that you are enough (cool enough, smart enough, enough enough), is accepting help.

All kinds of help

Help with starting, help with growing, help with doing-the-next-thing, help with reaching a new market, help getting to know the people who could help you.

Accept when it's offered

Sometimes, help if freely offered. Someone retweets a link to your awesomeness. Someone tells a friend. Someone writes you an encouraging email.

Ask for it

But often, maybe most of the time when you're first starting out, often you have to ask for help. First, you have to find who can help you. Then, you have to ask them.

This can be scary, because ohmygoodnesswhatiftheysayno? or whatifIsoundlikeadweeb? but it doesn't have to be.

Asking can be an exchange of ease

If someone (even someone you hugely admire) has become a friend, asking for help can be full-of-ease. If you've shared a helpful, useful exchange. If you like them and they like you and you treat each other as equals, you may just be friends.

Asking for help with your business can be as easy as asking your best friend to pick up a bag of ice when she's on her way over.  That never feels weird, right?

Do you have a story of asking for help? I want to hear it in the comments!


PS.  Need a little more details than “become friends”? Yeah, I thought so. Get lots of details next Tuesday, by joining us here.

Secret handshakes and reassurances

You feel like the new girl to class. You're new to twitter or to blogging or to your industry (heck, you may not even know your craft HAS an industry!).

You've found some awesome blogs, podcasts, magazines and books. You are learning and trying and figuring it out.

You are a fangirl. You can NOT imagine talking to (let alone emailing!) your favorite podcaster,  author or any number of cool people.

But you want to grow. You want to be part of it, to feel like you really are a member of the group or the industry or just, you know, not on the outside.

Oh, honey. I get it.
No one wants to feel like we're on the outside, but so often (especially online) we are. We don't know the secret handshake or the inside jokes or what TNNA is.

So here's a little reassurance.

We all feel like we're on the outside.
No one knows the secret handshake (or if they do, they haven't told me yet).
No one has it figured out.

And here's the crazy thing:

There is no “group”, no “insiders”, no “cool kids” (well, ok, most of the crafters I know are cool, but none of them know they are cool).
We are all working away in our studios at things that make us happy.
And we love to share it with others.

So if there's a person you'd like to get to know…
Or a magazine you'd like to pitch to….
Or a blog you'd like to comment on…

You officially have permission.
You are cool enough. You are enough enough.

And if you still feel a little shy or are wondering why your overtures aren't turning into friendships, you may enjoy the class Diane and I are teaching next week. We're going to share our low-stress, no-stalker way of approaching the people you admire. Join us here.

Who You Know – Diane’s Story

In celebration of our upcoming class about Who You Know, Diane and I are sharing our own stories about how getting to know some awesome people has resulted in biggification.

Check out Diane's story (and my ridiculous responses) here:

If you are completely smitten with Diane, after watching this silliness, you can get to know her better at CraftyPod.com

And if you're interested in getting to know people in your industry, you can check out the class here.

In which I briefly consider networking

This morning, I accompanied my husband (who just started his first business as a financial representative-extraordinaire) to a Chamber of Commerce breakfast.

Now, this isn't normally the sort of thing you bring your spouse to.
But since I also own a business, I decided to go and see what it was all about it (and yeah, provide some moral support).

Networking = Yawn

It was everything you'd expect from the words “chamber of commerce breakfast in a Holiday Inn banquet room.”

Old men.
Really disgusting coffee.

Oh, the people were delightful, even the old men politicians.

And for businesses like Jay's, it makes perfect sense.
He needs to meet people, build relationships, earn trust, get referred as a “great guy” (and he is, so that shouldn't be too hard).

My business needs all those things too

People who like me (and I like them)

But I don't need old-school networking.

I know I'm about 10 years late in extolling the virtues of the internet, but dudes! Do you know what it's saving us from?

Bad coffee! Boring elevator speeches! Smiling and nodding while old men talk tee times (not tea times, which I would have found slightly more interesting)!

I don't do networking events like these because I have Twitter. And Raverly. And the Boutique. And this space right here.
I've built a  business that caters to my personality and strengths (I'm a hermit that needs to nap after lengthy exposure to more than 3 people).

But you might.

Jay can tweet till his eyes fall off (and I finally convinced him to try), but his business success will depend entirely on the local market. So he can't skip the Chamber of Commerce breakfasts (but he'll be alone from here on out!) or the lunches with old dudes or the shaking hands and smiling.

So don't assume, just because you have (and love!) social media, that it does everything you need. Maybe you should brave an early morning meeting just to see how you might do it old-school

And I hereby promise to only have the best coffee when you come by to shake my hand and talk about (anything but) golf.