Before a recent trends panel at Design Chicago, I had an interior designer tell me she enjoyed the panel because it connected her to like minds. “We tend to work in vacuums,” she said, adding that she found events such as Design Chicago and a chance to network with peers refreshing. From the panels and round tables I’ve had the privilege to moderate, one of my favorite outcomes is when the participants get to know each other, realize how much they share and choose to stay connected.
As an editor, my job requires me to make connections to glean insights from those in our industries, so we can pass on timely information to help you better your business, even if you are working in that vacuum. I get it. We do all have to work that way sometimes. I’m writing this column on a plane. WiFi is disconnected, and I have an opportunity for (mostly) uninterrupted time to focus.
However, in my day to day, I am surrounded by a team of talented, creative people with whom I can meet and share ideas. Not to mention the designers, retailers, manufacturers and industry experts we connect with to create the content. While we can pass along those insights, we aren’t in the trenches trying to market to new clients and customers, or delight the existing ones. I imagine only your peers might understand that.
I’ve said this many times throughout my career, independent business owners like to — need to — talk to each other. You are not necessarily competitors and joining forces to share ideas can help you when facing factors that do impact your business. It’s why we have organizations, such as retail buying groups, interior designer societies and more. Being part of an organization or community where you find support for your business can be a game changer.
By the time you are reading this editorial, we will have all been through fall’s High Point Market, which offered up so many amazing opportunities for panels, tours and social opportunities to connect with experts and peers. We hope you were able to take advantage of at least one event where you met someone who shares your passion for retail, your design aesthetic or the same number of fur babies. It doesn’t matter what connects you. But the connections do matter.
If you didn’t get the chance in High Point, at your next trade event, pick one seminar or panel that excites you and attend. While you’re there, introduce yourself to the people sitting next to you. Exchange pleasantries and cards. Share something about yourself and your business. Make a friend and stay in touch so you’ve got an outside confidant who might see a challenge or opportunity differently than you do. Join a community or build your own, even if it’s just two people on the same path.
We might be really good at what we do alone, but we’re infinitely better together.