The best way to network is to do it authentically. In the process of meeting new people and finding a way to help them, we are creating a network without realising it. When we do networking freely, we find more people we are aligned with and that’s how we find our tribe.
In this episode, Shona Chambers, a freelance marketing consultant, talks about the importance of finding your tribe. You will learn tips on how you can create a network authentically and how you can find opportunities with your network naturally
Listen and Enjoy!
00:00 Episode Intro
00:38 Podcast Intro
02:30 About Shona Chambers
03:59 How Shona ended up with her current business
07:12 How Shona got her first clients
11:17 Doing collaborations with other people
13:40 Networking online
14:35 Gravitating towards authentic networking and finding opportunities through it
15:43 How Shona found her tribe when she went freelance
17:09 Networking by just trying to help others
18:40 Shona’s advice for people who are thinking of going freelance or starting a new business
20:17 How to find more about Shona Chambers
Book Recommendation: The Multi-hyphen Method by Emma Gannon
Hi, I’m Ruth, a business coach specializing in helping freelancers and business owners adjust their mindset and their marketing so they can get fully booked with clients they LOVE to work with. I’ve helped hundreds of self-employed women achieve the time and money freedom they craved.
I’ve started this podcast because when I first went all in and left the corporate world to be a freelancer, I was grateful for any work that came my way. After over 20 years of freelancing and working for other people, I started to realize I’d created a glass ceiling for myself.
In 2017, I finally started listening to that voice that had been telling me for a long time that I wasn’t doing what I loved and fulfilling my true potential. It took a critical illness to give me that wake-up call. I don’t want the same to happen to you.
You can expect practical advice, inspiring stories, and a lot of aha moments as we uncover and kick to the curb all the obstacles you have been putting in your way.
I’m on a mission to inspire women to start and play bigger in business
Free stuff: https://www.ruthgilbey.com/next-client
Ruth Gilbey 00:00
In today's episode of the inspiring women in business podcast, I talk to Shona Chambers, who is a freelance marketing consultant. And she's got a book called 100 Marketing Tips for small business owners, which is available from her website or on Amazon. And we talk about the importance of finding your tribe, how you might actually be networking without realizing your networking and how you can network authentically and find your tribe. It's a great episode.
Ruth Gilbey 00:38
Hello, and welcome to the inspiring women in business podcast. My name is Ruth Gilbey, and I'm a business and marketing coach. I'm on a mission to inspire women to start and play bigger in business. Now I started this podcast because when I first went all in and left the corporate world to be a freelancer, I was just grateful for any work that came my way. After over 20 years of freelancing and working for other people, I started to realize I'd created a glass ceiling myself. It was in 2017 when I finally started listening to that voice that had been telling me for a long time that I wasn't doing what I loved, and I wasn't fulfilling my true potential. It took a critical illness to give me that wake-up call. And I don't want the same thing to happen to you. You can expect practical advice, interviews, inspiring stories, and a lot of aha moments as we uncover and kick to the curb. All the obstacles you've been putting in your way.
Ruth Gilbey 01:46
Hi, everyone, welcome back to the Inspiring Women in Business podcast. I was just saying, actually, to my lovely guests Shona Chambers that it's been a while since I've done a recording because my whole family has been sick. So I've been my son had COVID I had a cold. And yeah, Shona and I were just by saying that there's just no shame in taking a break. We don't have to be superhuman and be doing everything. And I'm just so pleased. I'm so pleased that I batch recorded some episodes. So I could give myself a bit of a break. But I'm back with a podcast. Not that you noticed I've gone because I batch recorded, but I've got the lovely Shona Chambers with me today. And Shona. Do you want to introduce yourself to everybody tell everybody who you are and who you help?
Shona Chambers 02:30
Yeah, absolutely. So thank you so much for having me on. Ruth, it's really great to be with you. So I'm a small business marketing consultant. And I help I don't, I haven't got a niche. So I help small business owners that need help with their strategy and planning. So really, I like to say how can I help you make your marketing easier. So that could be helping someone with overwhelming if they feel like they're trying to use all the tools out there, and they're not sure you know why they're trying to do that, but they're feeling a bit overwhelmed. Or it could be helping somebody to create a strategy that helps them to feel like they're in control of their business marketing. And I've been doing that for Well, I've been self-employed for 10 years now.
Ruth Gilbey 03:12
Also, it's interesting, you say you don't have a niche, but it does sound like a niche to me. Yeah, but what do you mean, you don't have any was that a conscious decision to not have a niche?
Shona Chambers 03:23
I think has been Yes, I think, I mean, small business owners is a niche, I suppose. But equally, people can be very niche. Now I find that I haven't made a conscious decision to only work with coaches, or you know, female business owners, that kind of thing. And I think, you know if that's what you want to do brilliant, and it can be a great strategy. But I've enjoyed the breadth of working with lots of different people over the time I've been going.
Ruth Gilbey 03:47
I think it's really good for people to hear that because I think we can get hung up on niching can we? And we can use it as people can end up getting a bit stuck with it. So how did you end up having the business that you've got today?
Shona Chambers 03:59
So until 2011, I worked in corporate marketing, so I started off working in media and then went into finance, and then back to media. And as happens to a lot of people. I'd had my first child in 2008. And back then it was the whole thing about trying to work flexibly was there was a bit of a problem for me. So you know, it seems crazy where we've ended up in this COVID you know environment and people are now hybrid, but back then even asking to work one day from home was like, oh, no, you know, so I actually was made redundant in the end and I felt like it would be a good time for me to just try something completely different and try and create a life that worked for my family. So that was really what led me to be a freelance or self-employed marketer.
Ruth Gilbey 04:46
Right. Awesome. And so how when you first went freelance, what how did you feel? What was it like that came up for you? Did you make the move quite seamlessly, or was it did you come up against some things?
Shona Chambers 04:59
You know, I think it's quite interesting because I think like a lot of people, I'd followed a very specific path. So I'd gone to university, you know, I'd got my first job and I'd stayed in that group worked my way up for quite a long time. And so I felt like I had a lot to offer as an independent consultant. But I think there's that fear that you're doing something wrong, which can be you know, something that you can feel because your natural or your education at school is about working for a business. You know, there's a real lack, I still feel about teaching people that entrepreneurialism is an option for them. So yes, there was definitely that moment where I felt like, Are you crazy, you know, you should be getting a monthly salary, not trying to do it yourself. But I think that's always been in me this idea that I want to do things my way. So it was a nice opportunity to try that.
Ruth Gilbey 05:50
That really resonates with me. I find that really relatable. And I talked about that on the podcast before that we're not taught about entrepreneurship at school, are we and I guess you know, it's Facebook, I'm showing my age, but I'm 48 and Facebook wasn't around when I was at school is very different now. It's very different. And you know, having an online business wasn't something we were taught at school. Certainly, I wasn't. And yeah, I think as I was definitely brought up, as on many of us, and I see my children are brought up that way still, that they don't really talk about entrepreneurship, it even now, which seems crazy, really like that's the sort of thing I'm really quite passionate about. Actually, I'm in the car with my two boys, and we listen to podcasts, I get them thinking about possibilities, and they see me with my own business. So I think that's just really important. So when you went freelance, how did you start getting those first clients?
Shona Chambers 06:45
I think for me, I'm trying to remember, but I definitely did the tactic of emailing everyone that was already on my contact list and letting them know what I was doing. Because I have always believed that we all have a natural network. So I think when people first try and do something different, they feel like they've got to create a whole new life. But actually, there's always going to be people within your circle who are more sort of attuned to the new direction that you're going in already. So I think I definitely hit my inbox and started letting people know that way, Facebook was an option then. So I also talked about it on Facebook quite a lot. And forums used to also be quite a big tool, particularly in the area I live in, there are still a couple of white well-used forums as well. So they're about the local area. And you can let people know about your business, or you can see what other people are looking for as well. So I think it was quite proactive and just sort of seeing who was asking for help, really and how I could find my way in with that.
Ruth Gilbey 07:42
I think that's such a good point. I think as much as you and I both advocate for online marketing, it doesn't you don't have that audience immediately that you go freelance, you've got it, you're starting from the beginning. So tapping into your existing network, and, you know, allowing yourself to do that. I think some people have a real block around that. Because I say, Well, I don't want to work with my friends and family, but they might know someone. So I think that you know, referrals and that kind of digging into your existing network, which you do have are just so important. And a great first step. Did you do any in-person networking as well?
Shona Chambers 08:18
Oh, yeah, definitely. And I think I really started to develop a feel for what I liked. So I personally like really relaxed networking opportunities where you can have a cup of tea with somebody or coffee in my case, and just sort of getting a feel for who they are and what you might be able to help them with birth. You know, cuz I always think if you meet somebody, you should be thinking about what they're looking for and whether you can help them but rather than just straightaway going for the ask, which I think when people do that to you, it can be quite like Oh, hang on a minute, we were just having a cup of coffee and you know, now you're asking me to get my credit card out. And you know, so I think there's a real need for that gentle process, you know, the same way you would do in real life with other things. You wouldn't just go straight in for the kill but I think some people think that's how you have to do business.
Ruth Gilbey 09:04
Yeah, it's off-putting you don't just thrust your card go straight for the sale. He just it's about building relationships and yeah, developing those sort of friendships and networks that way. It's interesting in China because it comes up a lot. Networking comes up a lot. And I, I don't actually think I ever did any networking. I went to events, I went to events that I was I was genuinely interested in going to but I wasn't it wasn't the forefront of my mind that I would find work by going to these events. I just literally went because I wanted to meet other people that were in the same industry as me. I guess I wanted to network I guess that was it. I was networking to find my tribe and to go maybe and listen to some interesting talks, but it was always a bit of a surprise when someone said I met you at that event. And you know, maybe years later we developed a kind of friendship or connected and they became, you know, we ended up starting working together or collaborating. So was there was never really any kind of strategy behind my networking. I just was like, Oh, where are people who are doing similar things to me? Where can I find people like me because I found it quite lonely as a freelancer, to begin with? And I just I, you know, I'm a sociable person. And I just wanted to meet other people. But a lot of the time, what I see is people, they ask me a lot of questions around networking, and I find that I can't is one of the things it's just not my zones of genius to actually advise about networking. That's why I wanted to ask you about it because you've got a Facebook group called the self-employed club, haven't you? And you've got an Instagram account, self-employed club and you share tips, you've built a community that way is and you talk about, do you do any networking in the group as well, the Facebook group?
Shona Chambers 10:53
So until COVID here it was entirely in person. So we used to have up to 30 business members, business people meeting every month, and we'd have a great talk from somebody. So obviously, there are so many topics that are interesting to small business owners. So it could literally be anything from how to keep wellness at the heart of your business as well. Because you know, as you know, yourself, when you get sick, the business is affected. And, you know, obviously, a big topic at the moment is burnout. So I think small business owners particularly are really at risk of that. Because if you're not careful, if you don't have the right boundaries, then you know, you can end up working all the hours, particularly at the start, I think, because you might feel like you have to constantly be on call for your clients. But I think that's so important to set those boundaries out. So yeah, it was always in person. And then obviously COVID hit. And what I've been trying to establish is, you know, how to get back out there now that, you know, COVID is supposed, you know, on the way, but you know, a lot of people are quite nervous, I think about going back into a room. So there are still two kinds of people, I think, you know, they're the ones that want to be out there with other people and the ones that don't. So, you know, there's Sunday Social is great. We do that every week on Instagram and it gets really busy. So it's just a post where people can chat and you know, meet each other. And I do see a lot of collaborations happening. I think collaboration is a big word, talk about networking because it is about all the different ways that you can do that with somebody else. It doesn't have to be necessarily about how can we both make money together, it can be about how can we grow our audience together, you know, any opportunity where there's two of you or more is a great opportunity to find new people that just wouldn't have heard of you alone. So I think it's looking at networking in a bit of a lateral way thinking about all the ways that it can benefit you and others.
Ruth Gilbey 12:45
I absolutely love that that really resonates with me. So when you were doing these you were doing in-person events before. It's funny, you talk about I've got this real desire to see people in real life now. I just, you know, I need the connection. I like working on my own. I like the balance of being at home and working on my own. But I just didn't I do need to see people as well on I do really miss that I really struggled with that during the lockdown. So I think those kinds of events, I'm sure you're going to find lots of people wanting to go back into them. So you transferred it into the Facebook group and onto Instagram. And when COVID hit, did you?
Shona Chambers 13:21
Yeah, there still seems to be people interested in chatting and networking, you know, I've run a few challenges, and we've had people joining in from all over the place. So if anything, I think it's almost been a good thing because it's taken it from being very hyper-local to my immediate area. You know, I think when COVID hit, we went into three locations, and they were all within about five miles of each other. So you know, now it's trying to look at, okay, this used to be in person, but now there are people in Scotland who are joining in regularly, you know, there are people in Yorkshire, there are people in Cornwall, Wales, you know, so how do you obviously I can't travel the whole country trying to, you know, be a self-employed club on the road, although it has occurred to me. So it's trying to find a way that, you know, I still help the people that have built up because we've been online.
Ruth Gilbey 14:10
Yeah. Okay. And have you ever had any experience of like, kind of, if you joined anything like BNI before?
Shona Chambers 14:17
No, I have that myself. You know, I think some people need more structure than others. And I think joining a networking group where there are really clear rules can really work for some people. And equally, I think for others, it can feel a little bit claustrophobic, perhaps, you know, so not necessarily with that organization, but just with very structured groups. So I think it's about understanding yourself as a social creature and thinking about, you know, do I want to be bound to recommending certain people for positions when they come up? Or do I want to be free to network in a way where you know, I can see I've definitely found myself more aligned to certain people online just naturally, you know, and I can you sort of look at someone the way that they are. Whether they're happy to share other people's content, whether they're commenting on other people's content, whether they're behaving in a way that's kind of like, let's just get to know each other without any particular end goals, those are my people. And I think, you know, naturally by gravitating there, you will find opportunities for yourself.
Ruth Gilbey 15:18
I love that insight, actually. Oh, yeah, that's, that's brilliant that you're finding. So let's talk more about the tribe. But how did you find your tribe when you first went freelance?
Shona Chambers 15:28
I think half of it is trying to work out whether you want to network locally for one, which I think a lot of people do. So you know, I know certainly, I've found a great amount of really great business owners in and around Peckham, Forest Hill, Southeast London. So I think it's thinking to yourself, does it make sense to look for people to be in your tribe locally, so you can all be recommending each other's local businesses? Or do you want to go somewhere in you know, central London, for example, in my case, and network on a topic-based level, which obviously, you can do as well. So before the COVID strike, I did use to go along to quite big networking events and to see if there were, you know, like-minded people there and obviously, listen to some great talk. So Doing It For The Kids is a brand that they put on a few really great events over in White City, and had brilliant speakers and, you know, had sort of probably, like 200 people over there, you know, for the morning, and it was just so great, that energy was good. And we're all just enjoying kind of meeting people that felt like us, you know.
Ruth Gilbey 16:31
That's really nice to hear that it's inspiring me too, I keep saying, this year, I will go to more in-person events, I mean, life has been quite difficult to do that kind of thing. But like, just actually booking the time in to do those kinds of things and meet people I love it, you know, getting the energy of in doing something in person, what sort of last tips would you give to someone about networking, then you've already given so many.
Shona Chambers 16:54
I mean, personally, I do try and help others. So when I first meet somebody, I will look at what I can do for them, you know, what can I do? Is it sending them a blog I've written that will help? Is it introducing them? You know, I'm always trying to introduce people because what have you got to lose? You know, why wouldn't you, you know, and just trying to be a nice person to help others, you know, and if they, in turn, feel like there are things they can do for me, great. If not, I don't expect it. So that's just how, you know, I like to network, really.
Ruth Gilbey 17:25
I think a lot of what you've said today has made me realize I am networking. Just haven't been putting it under the umbrella networking. I just, it's just what I do. You know, it's just part of who I am. And oh, how can I help that person or that person? You know, they would work well with that. But I am a bit of a super-connector that way I love I'm always connecting people. So I guess I am. I just didn't realize I was doing it. It just wasn't under the official. And I guess I had this thing whereas but a bit kind of, I don't know. But it felt a bit odd calling it networking when it was like, Well, I'm just talking to people and just finding out how they are. And there was no kind of hidden agenda, I guess it was just, it's just something I've always done. I've always liked, Oh, that person needs that. Or that person would work well with that person. It's just something I do. And I do it in my membership all the time. I've got this really weird memory that I can remember all these what people have done, and I go that person did that. So I think that really helps with yeah, connecting people. That's awesome. So one of my last questions for you Shona is what advice would you give to someone who's thinking of going freelance or starting a new bit a new online business?
Shona Chambers 18:36
I think one of the things I would say is to figure out how you can do it a little bit first before you go full into it. You know, I know some people have a higher appetite for risk. But I think more and more these days side hustles are a thing you know, having multiple income streams is really sensible. So a book I would recommend if it's okay is the Multi-Hyphen Method by Emma Gannon. So that was a book that I read probably five years ago now. And it really did affect how I thought because you know, nowadays, there's no such thing as a job for life. Whether you stay in an industry for life is another thing, but having multiple ways of paying your bills is a really good idea. So that is what I would say or think about whether your idea has a real chance of paying your bills or whether it's something that you're going to need to develop over a certain period and definitely try it but you don't have to bet the house on it necessarily.
Ruth Gilbey 19:30
That's such good advice. I think we I've talked about this before and I remember when someone was saying I think it was Lindsay Gould in one of the earlier episodes when we were talking about podcasts she was saying there's just absolutely no shame in it being a part-time thing or a side hustle, to begin with, because it can I think what I've seen is people get very excited and go all in and it can throw you into I've got to make this work. And it's just too much pressure for everybody I think. But it's knowing yourself like you say weighing up the risk, whether you are someone who can go all in it works for some people, but not for everybody. We've got to pay the bills, haven't we?
Shona Chambers 20:07
Ruth Gilbey 20:09
And how can people find out more about you, Shona?
Shona Chambers 20:12
Sure. So my website is ShonaChambersmarketing.co.UK. There are over 100 Self Help marketing blogs on there now, which people are very welcome to come and have a look at. And last year now, the year before I saw the light, I wrote my first book, which is called 100 Marketing Tips for small business owners. And if anyone's interested, they can download the first chapter of that from my website and on most social platforms.
Ruth Gilbey 20:38
Amazing. That's yeah, so you've got a book called 100 Marketing Tips for small business owners, haven't you that's available from your website. Is it?
Shona Chambers 20:45
My website and Amazon
Ruth Gilbey 20:47
Brilliant. That's awesome. Thank you so much for your time today, Shona. That are really some amazing tips about finding your tribe and networking. And yeah, taking those first steps to go freelance. Thank you so much.
Thanks for listening and subscribing to the inspiring women in business podcast. Please do take a few moments to leave me a review. I love getting reviews they absolutely make my day. Also, go and check out my business-building hub. In there, you're going to find lots of great resources, free resources for business owners who are launching, running, or growing their businesses and I have a brand new masterclass for you. It's called the Sold Out Solution and in that, I share my exact roadmap to help you get your first online clients in 30 days. And guess what? It's only a 29-minute masterclass as well. So I get straight into the value. Lots and lots of great advice for you in there. And also, for those of you who watch the masterclass a freebie for you within the masterclass as well go and check it out.