When the thermometer soars, my mind drifts on the sun-kissed breeze and my productivity takes a belly flop. My solution: multitasking. I don’t mean laptop-on-the-beach kind of multitasking … too much glare and sand in expensive parts for me. I mean the get-out-there-and-experience-summer-while-making-some-business-connections kind of multitasking. As a writer, screen time is a must, but so is networking: as a writer and publisher, I’m a small business owner, too, and while social media has opened the world to business of all shapes and sizes, face-to-face interactions, especially those in your home town, province or state, remain a key ingredient in building your business one relationship at a time.
So, instead of sighing at summer through my office window, I’ve started looking at my summertime calendar with a fresh perspective: where do I want to go today, what do I want to do, and who can I meet there? Then I breathe, open my mind to the possibilities, tuck a few business cards in my pocket and head for a day of adventure.
Here are my top five places that I like to hang in the summer, and how that works for me and my business.
1. Farmers’ Markets. These weekend events are springing up all over. In my hometown of New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, the Saturday morning market draws more than 1,000 patrons and is chock full of small business owners selling everything from self-designed gadgets to breathtaking artwork. The folks behind the tables are usually more than willing to chat up their businesses: marketing, promotion, work habits … I come away with great advice and a basketload of goodies ebcause, of course, I need to be a good neighblur and patronize their businesses with more than lip service. And with all of those patrons milling about, there are some you know and can make introductions to those you don’t. An awesome morning that’s win-win for you, them, and the community.
2. Festivals. I’m a snare drummer in a pipe band, so summer weekends are spent on the Highland games circuit, but there are dozens of events every weekend throughout the Maritime provinces alone. Most events have vendors that again, give insight into great products and small business hints. But where gthese crowds are gathered ion fun – to enjoy music, food, or the warm summer atmosphere – is the opportunity for good conversations. It is not the time to be a telemarketer on foot, hawking wares and handing out cards like you’re on a quota, but to engage in genuine conversation about what is being enjoyed and why. The chat may be little more than ‘nice weather we’re having’ or it could lead to an email exchange and a mutual discovery worth following up on Monday morning.
3. Tournaments. Soccer, baseball, softball … ask any sports family, and they can give you the schedule. I’m not an athlete or particularly sports minded, but I love the energy and dedication evident on and around the field. Again, folks are gathered in a positive common purpose; it’s a great field not only for connecting with the ball, but for connecting with fans. Plus, getting to see in action the result of hard work, practice, commitment, and teamwork is inspiring for us desk jockeys, too.
4. Flea markets. Indoor or outdoor, these are goldmines for characters who spin great yarns along with making the sale; I’ve ended up with nuggets of businesss acumen and ideas for stories along with those old coffee tables that make great bookcases. Faced with tables of old yearning to be new again, my imagination takes flight and the occasional rush of adrenaline from bartering or sealing the deal gets the blood pumping and brain working, too. A $20 bill never went so far.
5. Car shows. Perhaps I was born in the wrong generation, but, my beloved Beetle aside, I yawn at most car models today. It’s the golden age of the 1950s that fans my flame of automotive desire. These gorgeous testaments of metal and pigment, speaking to a time when distinctive design and craftsmanship were showcased with pride, are outshined onlyby their owners, who spend thousands of hours and dollars preserving and sharing their four-wheeled beauties with the rest of us. Some of these cars were rescued as rust heaps from garages or fields and lovingly restored, or built from the ground up piece by piece, not unlike many of us who’ve purchased or built a business. Conversation, contemplation, and incentive to move forward have always come for me at these events, all for the price of admission and letting go to the experience.
So, despite my bulging calendar and our notoriously short summer season, I will enjoy every moment, and get some work done, too. Win-win. As a small busienss owner, and a writer no less, I’ll take allthe wins at a bargain I can get.
Thanks for reading! May your summer be rich in ways you choose, as well.
Jennifer Hatt is a freelance writer, publisher, and author of the Finding Maria series, a nova Zcotia love story based on true events.