I recently had the opportunity to virtually attend several local networking groups. The meetings were well-attended and participants were enthusiastic, supportive, and eager to make connections. I was impressed and intrigued.
Then membership rules were explained. The groups were expensive, but the money could be seen as an investment as a large part of the group’s mission was to connect one another with referrals from their individual own client bases. Okay, we all know word-of-mouth referrals tend to result in the best accounts… but there was more. Members were required to participate in weekly in-person meetings or face a financial penalty. As someone who designed a business capable of working anywhere in the world exactly so I can work anywhere in the world, this was the nonstarter.
Still, I admired the way the community supported one another, and what business owner wouldn’t like more word-of-mouth referrals? I started to imagine what my perfect networking group would look like:
- It would be free.
- It wouldn’t require high-pressure recruiting – members would invite business-minded friends on their own accord if the group had value.
- While the group would serve to widen each member’s client base through referrals, it would also be a safe space to ask those embarrassing business questions we’re just expected to know once we set up shop. Like, what does it actually mean to run payroll? Do Instagram hashtags actually work? Does anyone else set a fair price list… and then inexplicitly undercut themselves when it’s time to provide a quote?!?
Working with other business owners through The Business Shop, I realized many of my clients could use the same networking opportunity I was seeking. So I created Shop Talk, and I’d like to share it with you.
What is Shop Talk?
Shop Talk is a free Zoom-based group for small business owners. Part networking, part mastermind, members support each other through online promotion, direct referrals, and by offering space to share successes, failures, and ask questions we might not otherwise feel comfortable giving voice to publicly.
Who is Shop Talk for?
Shop Talk is for the business owner who sometimes feels like they’re both reinventing the wheel and shouting into the void. It’s for the entrepreneurs among us who consider business development a branch of personal development (and they’re into that too!). It’s for people who are passionate about their product or service but dislike high-pressure sales. It’s for owners of any sized business, whether they’re flying solo or managing staff. It’s for people creating something, whether building from scratch, franchise, or direct sales.
What’s the Shop Talk format?
Shop Talk takes place over two hours, once a week, on Zoom. Each member takes turns sharing the following:
- Who they are and what their business offers (product or service-based)
- Who their ideal client is that week (so if other members of the group know such a person, they can refer!)
- A success they enjoyed the previous week (this could be a sale, or a new product launched, a new hire, a new procedure that’s working out well, etc.
- A lesson they learned (this could be gleaned from failure, or something as small as a book or podcast that’s helping them, or even a new habit that’s making their day flow more smoothly)
- The name of the business they shouted out on social the week before or any referrals made the week prior
- And a business question (in case someone in the group has the answer!) (This part is optional)
After everyone’s had a turn, members will have the opportunity to answer the submitted questions.
What are Shop Talk Member Requirements?
- Show up when you can
- Be prepared to share
- Promote at least one other member’s service on a social platform at least once a week (ideally, a different member each week)
- Connect new customers to members within the group when possible (for example, if a FB friend posts that they are looking for a plumber, and you’ve met a plumber through Shop Talk, you’d suggest their business). Tip, if you make a referral, write it down and let us know at the next meeting (you’ll make someone’s day!)
- Invite other businesspeople to join if you believe they’d find value in the group
- Like or follow other member’s business pages on social media (a list of Shop Talk members can be found below)
- Shop Talk members can also interact on the Shop Talk Facebook group
Have a Question? Send me a message!
Our Shop Talk Community
This list updates monthly as new small business owners join the community.
Owner: Cynthia Horvath, Slave Lake, Alberta
Owner: Olivia Broad, Slave Lake, Alberta
Owner: Liz Pomeroy, Edmonton, Alberta