“There will be 4 or 5 of us I think. I’m not 100% sure how many are coming.”
“No problem! What are their names, we’ll send them over.”
And then I realized for the most part, I didn’t know who I was meeting with. I could tell the hostess their Instagram names, but I wasn’t completely sure what their real names were. And that made me laugh.
“I actually don’t know. If they ask for the Instagram friends, that’s us.” And with a weird look she went to get our table ready.
Later, as we all laughed over our burgers and the shake split four ways, Cassie (of @cassandcofilms) told us how she’d mentioned to a friend that she was coming and meeting up with us for dinner. “Now who are they?” “Oh, just some Instagram friends.” “Isn’t that kinda creepy?” “Not at all. If they’re pulling something on my they’ve sure done the long con to set this all up!”
We were all friends already. We’d never met, and when we got there we all knew each other’s Instagram handles better than each other’s first names, but we were invested in each other.
There are ten of us from the Phoenix Tuesday’s Together group that are in an Instagram Pod together (a group to help boost each other’s engagement). We’ve interacted long enough on Instagram that we know that Jenn is in the middle of a major house renovation and adventure. We knew that the other Jenn was smack in the middle of her 100 day design project. They knew about our One Bedroom Wonder adventures and that I’d done the details mentoring session (which they were now signed up for). We knew that Cassie is rocking the videography world and just had her husband join her in the business. We are able to follow each other and support each other.
We’d talked in the group for a while about the idea of meeting up, but it just hadn’t happened yet. So when I knew I was going to be making a trip down on Monday, I figured I’d see who could get together, and we ended up with our fun little group sitting at the outside corner table at Zinburger in downtown Gilbert. We talked about life, marriage, Instagram, mentoring sessions, each other’s businesses, houses, rumbas, and had a great time. It was wonderful to put faces and real names behind the Instagram accounts. It’s made me even more invested in them, and I felt like I came away with some real life friends.
Earlier in the day I had met up with a Virtual Assistant, who I also connected with through her sister (who is also in the Rising Tide Society in Phoenix). She and I had been messaging back and forth and came up with a trade of services. It was so fun to meet her and her sweet baby Asher for their Mommy and Me session, and then to do her headshots. I loved getting to know her and work with her, and am excited to continue building a friendship and working relationship with her!
After finishing up the Mommy & Me portion of the trade session, we were walking back to our cars to go to the second location and I heard someone call out my name. I was 4 hours from home in the ginormous Phoenix valley…who would know me here?! And it was Amanda from Aloe Creative! Amanda did all my new branding, and I also first found her through the Rising Tide Society (and the Phoenix Tuesday’s Together group, which is one of the local chapters of the RTS). She’d seen my Instagram Story about finding the location for the session, and came over to say hello! It was so awesome to get to meet her and her sweet little girl in person after corresponding online for months!
As I drove home I couldn’t quit grinning. My experiences with community over competition and Tuesdays Together meetups has been varied. The last Tuesdays Together meetup I went to I came away feeling like it hadn’t been worth my 8 hour round trip adventure to attend. It was frustrating. Other times I’ve felt like people saw community as people coming together to help them and to further their own business. But Monday I came away feeling like we were all mutually invested in each other. We want to see each other succeed. We want to help each other. We want to be friends. And that was the coolest feeling ever.
Community Over Competition in Real Life for me is not styled shoots (which is a fun aspect, but not the point), not just monthly meetings, and not just a vague idea. It’s real. It’s powerful. It’s exciting! Being able to come together with other creatives and small business owners to strengthen friendships, support each other, and build each other up is amazing. I know my business is stronger because of community over competition, and I hope that I’ve been able to help strengthen other businesses and dreams as well!
So today, I challenge you to find someone to encourage. It can be in person, it can be online. But go give some encouragement and support. I know it’ll make a difference, because I’ve seen it make a difference in my life as the receiver and the giver. A rising tide really does lift all boats, and being a part of that tide is amazing!