How I grew my network in multiple cities
I still find it surprising when people from my hometown don’t realize that I don’t live in the same city as them. This year makes 7 years and sometimes I can’t believe it myself. I moved to Indianapolis when I was 19 and had to learn to be an adult in a place that was unfamiliar. Honestly speaking, it was a complete culture shock when I first moved and I personally struggled with the adjustment. Everything and everyone was way different than what I was used to back in St. Louis. I’m usually the one to love a challenge but when I first moved I felt defeated. I have never been afraid of change and that’s really what provoked the decision to move in the first place. But for someone only a year out of high school, I didn’t know how challenging a move like this would really be. So like every other “introvert” in an unfamiliar place, I stayed to myself. I survived my first few years with mean mugs and witty comebacks. I wasn’t open to meeting new people even though I complained on Saturdays when I had no one to hang with. I survived this way for about 3 years in Indy and then I started a business.
When I first got the vision for Girls With Goals, I was a tad bit intimidated by it. All I could think about was “How in the world could I possibly succeed at this if I didn’t know anyone in the city that I lived in?” I wasn’t on a college campus with my peers so I couldn’t start there. I hated my job so I never told them about my business idea. Inspite of these things, I started anyway. Now this was a challenge I was willing to accept! I decided to use social media for what it’s worth! Not only did I create an online platform to showcase real life “GIRLS WITH GOALS” but I added tons of friends that lived in Indianapolis so that they could see what I was doing. I was able to really learn for myself the power of social media. It was legit a real place to be social and make new friends. You know you have that one person you follow who just gets you but you’ve never met in person… Yep, I was pretty much that girl who only had social media friends. But after building a semi-real friendship through likes and comments, I would take the next step and ask if they wanted to meet up for coffee or dinner. It was hella weird and awkward at first but I realized it actually worked! Girls that lived in Indy started to know me through social media. The next thing you know, we would be in the same place, sharing even more moments and developing a real relationship. Eventually they would introduce me to their friends and suggest that I feature them on Girls With Goals page. And it went on and on from there.
Another major key I took advantage of to grow my business was local networking events. I would either find them on Facebook or through EventBrite and intentionally go and meet new people. These events would be hit or miss sometimes because there wasn’t always the right people in the room. But I made sure I had my business cards and was ready to talk about my business. I also found it beneficial to put my picture on my business card. This made it easier for someone to recognize me the next time we ended up in the same place. I had to get out the box, literally hopping out of my comfort zone and trying new things.
Over the past few years, I have been gaining friends left and right and ultimately finding great support for Girls With Goals in different cities in the midwest. I was bold and decided to take control of my social life and this is when more doors opened up for me. The most important thing I learned to do is to stay true to myself. A lot of business owners have trouble with gaining clients and selling products through social media because they are two different people. Meaning we see them one way on social media but completely different in person. What these entrepreneurs don’t realize is that they are the #1 brand ambassador for their business. You should be the same online as you are in person. YOU ARE WHAT SELLS! Girls With Goals Movement started 3 years ago and Jas Thomas is and will always be A GIRL WITH A GOAL! The growth of my network started with me! I learned to be consistent and open for opportunity as a black female entrepreneur.
This past weekend, I host the 2nd Annual Where Girls Meet Brunch in St. Louis, MO where women from all over the midwest joined us for networking and a super impactful panel discussion. People traveled from Indianapolis, Chicago, Ohio, and Memphis for this empowering event. I am so proud to say that this was my first sold out event! I know for sure that this event would not have been as successful if I would have stayed in my shell and not been intentional about meeting new people in new cities.
If you are someone who just relocated or have been thinking about it, please let this blog encourage you. It is possible! Your business doesn’t have to stay in one place. Don’t be afraid to expand your brand to new areas. I promise you, more support is out there! The 3 things I want you to take away from this include:
Utilize social media, yes, you can make friends from your computer!
Go to as many networking events as possible and don’t forget your business cards. You never know who might be in the room!
Be true to yourself and your brand!
You guys hang tight because Girls With Goals Movement is coming to a city near you!