How to Build Your Creative Tribe

16-Oct-2014

We were sharing our key takeaways and “ah-ha” moments during the closing session at DesignerVACA (it’s like summer camp in fabulous Palm Springs for graphic designers) when one designer said something along the lines of coming to DesignerVACA to learn freelancing tips and tricks but was surprised to come away with her tribe. She said she had underestimated how important it was to connect with comrades and would be searching for more of “her people” once she returned home. And then just this week one of my creative coaching clients asked me how she can build her following and find her tribe. So that’s what I want to talk about this week: how to find and build your tribe. 

WHO IS YOUR TRIBE?
Think of your tribe as a layered onion. The outer layer might be blog readers, Instagram followers, and friendly acquaintances at the coffee shop. The next layer in might be people you only know from the internet but refer to as friends – for example, your husband or girlfriend might know this person by name and/or Twitter handle because you refer to them often enough. The next layer in might be IRL (that stands for In Real Life) friends – the ones you’ve met at conferences, workshops, or retreats and keep in touch with via social media. After that you might find the people you’re in the trenches with – your co-workers, business partners, and creative collaborators. Then there are you close friends – the ones you text your secrets to and have 5-hour long brunches with. The closer you get to the core of the onion the closer your tribe becomes – for me these are my best friends and family – pretty much the people who have seen me ugly cry. 

So how do you build those layers of your tribe? Here’s how I’ve done it: 



1. BE GENEROUS WITH YOUR GIFTS OF KNOWLEDGE
Whether it’s giving a talk or hitting publish on a blog post – create and share meaningful content that will somehow make your audience’s life a little better – even if it’s just one person. 

2. START TALKING (AND COMMENTING) 
How often do you comment on your favorite blogs? Or how often do you create a conversation with someone you admire on Facebook or Twitter? Once a week I make it a goal of mine to comment on every blog post or hit “reply” to every newsletter I read that day.  

3. ATTEND CONFERENCES, WORKSHOPS, AND RETREATS
It can be expensive to travel but I have never once regretted the money I’ve spent to attend a creative conference, workshop, or retreat. It always connects me with the people I’m supposed to be friends with (and the bloggers I leave comments with). Plus, every time I make an investment to travel it has more than paid for itself with new business opportunities. 

4. SUPPORT YOUR TRIBE WITH YOUR DOLLARS
When your friends or clients launch new products or services that you want or need don’t hesitate to click “buy”. I believe this creates good commerce karma between creatives. 

5. HAVE SOMETHING TO OFFER 
Your tribe wants to support you too! They just need to know how. Package up your offerings in a way that people know how to buy – and let them know about it! 

BUILDING YOUR TRIBE STARTS SMALL 
The most important thing to remember when it comes to finding your tribe is to start small. It starts with commenting on one blog, making one new friend at a conference or workshop, or having one really great conversation at the coffee shop with a creative friend. 

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