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Networking & Marketing In Tune With Your Spirit -- By Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

"Where do you find your people?" is a question I hear a lot. As someone who has been offering writing workshops, coaching, and consulting for many years, I find that the people who sign up come from directions I could never predict. In the last year, I've worked with a woman who was a student of mine over 20 years ago, a doctor who treated my sinus infections about ten years ago, and a woman who I joked with as we watched our kids perform in high school band concerts way-back-when.

Yet there's a common thread: realationships with various communities over time. I've sustained these relationships some of the usual ways -- posting on social media, updating my website, sending out newsletters, giving presentations, writing blog posts -- but what really keeps my work afloat is word of mouth born of putting myself out there.

I practice marketing and networking according to my values and ethics and in tune with my spirit. I say "practice" because it is a practice to engage in when it comes to communicating as authentically as possible with people who might benefit from my work. Marketing is how we put forth as our work, and networking is how we make and sustain connections with potential clients, students, customers, and participants. It all has to do with what we say in our words and actions over time.

Given how much many of us feel pressured, overwhelmed, even bombarded by the marketing coming at us all directions -- overflowing our emails, packing our mailboxes, interrupting shows we're watching -- it's no wonder marketing is often seen as aggressive, pushy, even manipulative. Networking can make us feel pressured to perform and sell ourselves.

Yet by reclaiming our work as our calling -- what we feel compelled to create and share -- we can redefine what marketing and networking is for us. I learned long ago that our true work at its best is a gift for those around us, an opportunity that might help others access more of their own gifts.

Likewise, how we talk about what we do and the conversations we engage in can make a practice a spiritual one, going back to the root of the work "spirit," which relates to breath and inspiration. Marketing and networking give us practice working with our own edges -- what challenges us and what we sense we need to learn. It's not an extra thing to do to support our work; it is our work.

So how do we market and network our own best way? Not everyone has to do whatever the common ideas of marketing and network dictate. Plus, the common ways to use social media, set up websites or network with potential customers keep evolving, so why not evolve your own best practices? There's so many possibilities, such as:

  • Find it downright excruciating to attend crowded networking events or give public talks? Then try reaching out to a potential ally for coffee, something Alana Muller, one of our Your Right Livelihood teachers, focuses on in her consulting business, Coffee Lunch Coffee.

  • Want to start offering a workshop, retreat, or class but need some ideas on how to find participants or places where you can offer this? Invite some friends over for tea and cookies, give them a mini version of your session, then brainstorm about people and places that might appreciate this work.

  • Despise social media or sick of sending emails? Send individualized cards in the real mail to real people to tell them about what you're up in case they're interested.

The point is to do your outreach in ways that bring you meaning and perhaps even joy, and also help you connect with others who might benefit from what you have to offer. This is exactly what Kathryn Lorenzen and I will be sharing a taste of in our upcoming workshop -- Building Connections to Create Sustainable Work in the Arts -- Sun., Jan. 7th from 2-3:30 p.m. The session, also a benefit for the Transformative Language Arts Network, will give you expanded views of what to say, who to say it to, and how to build relevant connections. Our Your Right Livelihood Class, Feb. 18 - April 14, goes into much more depth about ways to make your work (whether it's for your livelihood, art, or service) sustainable and satisfying.

Please be in touch if you want to talk! We love making connections, especially about your best ways to find and talk to your people.

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