This is conversation 17 of 101 conversations about how small business owners build their networks. Learn how Rebecca, an artist, author, and expert community builder, focuses on authenticity and genuine connections to reframe networking.
Location: Portland, OR
Her business: Artist, author, Local Portland Organizer, Freelancers Union
How we met: The Pioneer Nation Facebook page
Rebecca’s philosophy is that we all want to be seen and heard, acknowledged and appreciated in some way, even if we don’t know it. It’s a driving force in how we relate to ourselves, others, and the decisions we make when it comes to creating our livelihoods and lifestyles.
Rebecca’s career is about this concept, whether that is conveying relationships and metaphors through her art, or doing a TEDx talk about the importance of story and connection.
In her talk at TEDxConcordiaUPortland, she discussed the power of metaphor to help us understand our own struggles and stories, the importance of facing untruths about ourselves, and the power of honesty to help us create better relationships and communities. I strongly suggest you watch it – it is powerful.
When I asked her about how art and community-building intersect, Rebecca said that her work is about connection, so conceptually, community plays a strong part in her art. For example, when her piece hung in the Portland airport, she got so many Tweets from travelers, friends and strangers. She loved connecting with those people. Her artwork is a gateway,a common place for us to meet. Her hope is that we can see we all share similar stories, struggles and triumphs, helping us create better relationships and communities.
Also, from a business end, genuinely connecting is really important. She needs to have solid relationships with her galleries, customers and followers. She says you never know when someone will make a referral, want to collaborate or will be one of her champions.
Rebecca’s TEDx talk tapped into an important concept, which is the fear of showing other people our true selves.
I asked Rebecca what she would tell herself if she could go back to the beginning of her business journey, and she said that she would tell herself to quit worrying about what other people thought of her. There were so many times she held back because she thought she would look dumb, or not fit in. Now she knows that people are going to accept her or not, but being herself is the best thing she can do.
We all hold back from sharing ourselves with others, but Rebecca really believes that we all have something good and powerful and strong to share with one another.
Community building is especially important for freelancers, who don’t have the built in communities and specified roles that are present in traditional office jobs.
Rebecca thinks community is so essential when you work for yourself, because you have to understand the difference between competition and collaboration. If you can learn how to collaborate, you really grow your business, because you can take care of your customers even when you get too busy, and the collaborator also trusts you and is going to reciprocate.
- We all want to be seen and heard, which is important in two ways. 1: Don’t be afraid of others seeing you. 2: Giving others the gift of really seeing and hearing them is a powerful way of making an authentic connection.
- Rebecca’s art is not only about connection, but it also connects her with others as well. How can we make businesses that inherently invite connection?
- “Networking” is about authentically connecting through shared stories.
Rebecca wants to connect with:
Other freelancers that are genuinely interested in supporting one another, building a reciprocal referral network and opportunities for collaboration and friendship.
Rebecca can help you by:
Giving you pointers about how to network as well as any aesthetic tips on your virtual presence.
If you want to connect with Rebecca, check out her LinkedIn profile here.
1 step you can take to grow your network today:
Be vulnerable. Share a genuine story with someone you meet. Then really listen to their story.