For nearly three hours today, I hosted a group of ten Indianapolis-based freelance public relations and marketing professionals – all women - at my home. It was over the lunch hour and everyone pitched in – and I’m not just talking about the food.
Women are starting businesses, especially at-home businesses, double the rate of men. One of the downfalls of being an independent consultant is the isolation that can easily occur. If you are considering a work-at-home business, beware; there are days when you won’t leave the office, let alone the house. And the water cooler isn’t that much fun when you’re the only one standing there.
Even though there are a number of tips on how to bust the home business blues, it is important to create opportunities to just talk to other professionals. If conferences are your thing, that’s great. And Twitter is a great way to discuss a topic. But sometimes, the best networking happens over a bowl of chili.
That’s what happened today in my home office. Since many of the women didn’t know each other, I had an ice-breaker to get the conversation started. Turns out there was no ice anywhere but the ice bucket. This group was ready to talk!
We talked about how public relations and social media need to go hand in hand. Discussed the value of the Indiana Women Business Enterprise (WBE) designation. Debated when to conference call versus drive across town. Shared how to better track productivity. What we were reading. The value of a home office. The benefits of an offsite one. What new tools and tactics worked for each of us. What we wanted to learn next.
Toward the end of the afternoon, one of my peers marveled how open everyone was even though we were all competitors. In a small market. During a recession. Yet, not a single person present hesitated to share advice, experiences, or ways about how each of us could grow our business.
There is a lot of good PR going on in Indianapolis. Quite a bit of it in independent offices outside the downtown mile. And it is worth talking about.