Beautiful hanging art at Lillstreet Loft. Photo credit Kandy Christensen
I spent the weekend surrounded by community and it was awesome. I feel sometimes like I have stumbled into some secret club in Chicago and I've been gifted with the secret handshake, and yet, there is no need for a handshake, because all are welcome. 
I am continuously inspired by the gifts I receive in the form of support, retweets and facebook shares, tips and tricks, referrals and an occassional 'you can do it' from the entrepreneurs, creatives and makers in Chicago. 
This town is made up of a collaborative network of people that recognize there is room for everyone to grow. I've seen businesses that would be considered in direct competition refer clients to each other if they thought they would be a better fit. I have had people express very pleasant shock when I take the time to champion their business and that stops me in my tracks because that's how we do it. 
I am grateful for this web of giving that provides me and my business with so much care that when I encounter 'business as usual' I'm appalled. I had a conversation recently where I was offering my services gratis purely to help another business grow and the response was "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine." 
No, that's not how it works and it tarnished my offering that was freely given. I view my time or services as a contribution to our community. When I contribute to our community then the whole community, including myself, benefits and grows. 
In the infamous words of Vanilla Ice- "Stop, Collaborate and Listen", which aptly sums up how you grow your business, especially here in Chicago. 
How can you support our community today?

Originally published 3/30/14

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