Get To Know The San Diego Creative Community - An In-Depth Guide

San Diego, California has a pretty impressive population of small business owners, bloggers, and freelance solopreneurs. We have cake pop companies, Facebook ad strategists, gift box curators, and wellness chefs. Graphic designers, distillers, and career coaches. Everywhere I turn, there seems to be a new event popping up for the creative community that I can pencil in to my calendar.

This is another reason why I’m wholeheartedly obsessed with San Diego.

I mean, how could anyone not fall in love with this coastal city? The tacos, the towering palm trees, the quite-frequently perfect days, andddd yes, the insanely amazing entrepreneurial community. Let’s dig in, shall we?

One thing I’ve noticed at every event I’ve stepped foot in, is just how supportive, encouraging, and inspiring the women are, and it lights me up like no other. I leave feeling like a firecracker - ready to take on the world, implement the next big thing, and do a happy dance over all the new people I met!

Depending on your personality type, in-person events can be nervewracking, draining, or both, but I have a few practices I put into place at the start of each month that ensure I get to at least 1 or 2.

Set an intention of how many events or new connections you’d like to make.

If you’re not used to networking on the regular, maybe 1 event per month is a good benchmark to set that won’t be too overwhelming. Last month, I managed to attend three local events, schedule a virtual brunch, and have an in-person smoothie date with a new friend at Trilogy Sanctuary (which has the prettiest views of the ocean and La Jolla!).

Pro tip: I squished the events into a 2 week window so that the rest of the month, my calendar had plenty of white space - aka dedicated time built in for rest, replenishment, and other things!

When you purchase the tickets or RSVP to claim your spot, do so ahead of time and pencil the events into your calendar. I love looking at my planner in a monthly view, and I color code my commitments with a highlighter so they really stand out.

Have 2-3 meaningful conversations.

Never walk into a local event with the goal of connecting with every single person. For one, that’s an impossible feat, and two, it would lead to 20 or 45 “small talk” conversations that end up being forgettable, rather than meaningful. (I talk more about this on The Casual Creatives podcast).

Instead, stalk the Instagrams of people that you know are going to the event, and leave a comment on their page. Or, see who is ‘following’ the networking group, and check out some of the profiles of their followers. A little pre-engaging goes a long way!
Here’s a taste of the three events I attended last month:

September 9th - Woke up early (for a Saturday) and went to a beachfront spinning class at the Hotel Del Coronado with Levo San Diego, a group for young professional women. About 10-12 of us spun our hearts out and then walked over to a cute cafe for breakfast and got to know each other better.

September 11th - What better way to start a Monday than to visit a new co-working space in the heart of downtown, and settle in to an inspiring rooftop yoga flow taught by Allison Gower? This was the first San Diego Micro Meetup on a Monday. The event also offered mini swag bags, giveaways, and a lively Q&A session with two business coaches.

September 13th - I gathered around a table with 6 other creative business women and just like in a typical mastermind format, we each had the “floor” for 20 minutes to gather whatever business advice or suggestions we needed from the group. I left this MAKE/Shift with new connections, a notebook filled to the brim with ideas, and plenty of validation on ideas I was contemplating for City Leaper.

Now, where to find all of these fabulous networking groups? Here is a list of my personal favorites, along with a description of each.

San Diego Networking Groups

Ad 2 San Diego - If you’re under the age of 32 and work in advertising or marketing, this is your community! The nonprofit regularly hosts inexpensive workshops and networking events for young professionals all around San Diego. Over the age of 32? Check out SDX.

Sample Event: An untapped event at the headquarters of San Diego Magazine.

Follow Ad 2 San Diego on Facebook
Follow @ad2sd on Instagram

Babes Who Sweat - I love the community that holistic health coach and trainer Keara Christine has put together. Every Wednesday, she hosts $10 “Work It Wednesday” bootcamp workouts in Crown Point and also throws in the occasional wellness popup and fitness event.

Sample Event: A 2-mile run and HIIT session followed by a chat led by a nutritionist!

Follow Babes Who Sweat on Facebook
Follow @babeswhosweat on Instagram

Boss Babes Brunch Club - A “non-networking” network of entrepreneurial women! Boss Babes is led by creative duo Alisha and Brandi, who regularly put on quality events with speakers, wine, and amazing women! The two events I’ve been to have been a total blast, and I’m excited to see what’s next for them.

Sample Event: A free networking happy hour at a boutique in Carlsbad, with a speaker and giveaways. 

Follow Boss Babes Brunch Club on Facebook
Follow @bossbabesbrunchclub on Instagram

Creative Mornings San Diego - A "breakfast lecture" series for the creative community. You can 100% anticipate free coffee, donuts, or both at these inspiring morning talks. Always held on a Friday, each month's event features a speaker and a chosen theme.

Sample Event: Speaker Sara Schairer spoke about compassion and how it can revolutionize our world.

Follow Creative Mornings San Diego on Facebook

Follow @creativemornings_sd on Instagram

Dames Collective - A newer collective, this intimate group of women (capped at 50 members!) host monthly meetups and gatherings all around San Diego. In their words, this is the “ultimate networking group for this generation’s female leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators.” Memberships start at $35 per month.

Sample Event: An open brainstorming session about guerilla marketing held at You & Yours Distillery. 

Follow Dames Collective on Facebook
Follow @damescollective on Instagram

Gals That Brunch - With over 55 chapters around the world, Gals That Brunch hosts intimate brunches for women predominantly in their 20's and 30's. They're headquarted in SD, and we all know San Diego has tons of delicious brunch fare.

Sample Event: Brunch at Great Maple, complete with allll the maple bacon donuts.

Follow Gals That Brunch on Facebook
Follow @galsthatbrunchsd on Instagram

Happsters Girl Squad - Kelli Pease has created an incredible community of happiness and inspiration over at @happsters. Now, in her newest venture, she cultivates groups of 18 girls for good vibes and deep connections.

Sample Event: A sunset picnic with rose and a floral sage DIY project. 

Follow Happsters on Facebook
Follow @happstersgirlsquad on Instagram

Lady Killas San Diego - Lady Killas are devoted to the growth of female leadership in the workplace, and founder Courtney Wall has created a positive, powerful platform with monthly networking and speaker-led events. These events are super accessible to all (most being free or $5!) so you can’t afford to miss one.

Sample Event: Lauryn Evarts of The Skinny Confidential spoke to the crowd all about confidence.

Follow Lady Killas on Facebook 
Follow @ladykillas_sd on Instagram

Levo San Diego - Levo is a community of professional millennial women. I attended my first event with them recently and was blown away by how nice everyone was. The San Diego chapter hosts many fun and completely free events.

Sample Event: A scenic hike at Torrey Pines, thoughtfully called a “network-out” :) 

Follow Levo League on Facebook 
Follow @levoleaguesd on Instagram

MAKE/SHIFT - If you’ve ever wanted to be a part of a mastermind group, MAKE/SHIFT’s intimate roundtable events are for you. Hosted nearly every month, the platform that co-founders Marie and Michelle have built is incredible for fostering deeper connections and inspiring growth for your business.

Sample Event: You’re paired with a small group of entrepreneurs at a table, and a facilitator keeps time as each person is given 20 minutes to seek advice and ideas from the group. 

Follow MAKE/SHIFT on Instagram

San Diego Business Babes Collective - Launched in August 2017, the San Diego chapter is bringing women together for quality connections and collaboration. I’m excited to see what events these ladies have in store for 2018.

Sample Event: Open networking at a local boutique with drinks, treats, inspiring speakers, and a photo booth. 

Follow San Diego Business Babes Collective on Facebook 
Follow @sdbusinessbabes on Instagram

San Diego Micro Meetups - Krystal organizes small gatherings of ambitious women that are thoughtfully curated and a blast to attend. Pricing is affordable and all events are limited in size so that there’s an opportunity to get to know the other ladies. A series she recently launched is called ‘Motivation Mondays’ and these Monday gatherings definitely shake up the usual hustle and grind.

Sample Event: 1 hour of open Q&A with 2 business coaches, followed by a rooftop vinyasa yoga class at a co-working space. 

Follow San Diego Micro Meetups on Facebook 
Follow @micromeetupsd on Instagram

San Diego Style Bloggers - If you’re a fashion blogger, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to connect and collaborate with these fierce ladies. They occasionally host events in partnership with local boutiques and brands. Hashtag your outfit photos on Instagram with #SDStyleBloggers for a chance to be featured on their account.

Sample Event: A private trunk show with exclusive discounts, hosted pizza and cocktails.

Follow San Diego Style Bloggers on Facebook 
Follow @sdstylebloggers on Instagram

She Rocks - What began as an intimate networking event in the fall of 2016 has grown into a freaking fantastic, large-scale networking group for creative women in business. My first She Rocks event was insanely memorable and I look forward to future events. They have a lot planned for 2018, so keep an eye out!

Sample Event: 100+ woman networking party with bites, cocktails, a braid bar, and shopping. 

Follow She Rocks on Facebook 
Follow @sherockswerock on Instagram

Tone It Up San Diego - If you’re a fan of Karena and Katrina, or just happen to love a good sweat, this encouraging Facebook group will connect you with local San Diego women (most in their 20’s and 30’s) who share upcoming fitness events and gatherings.

Sample Event: Private class at a barre studio with mimosas served afterwards. 

Join Tone It Up San Diego on Facebook 
Follow @tiusandiego on Instagram

Tuesdays Together San Diego - A division of Rising Tide Society, Tuesdays Together hosts a monthly meetup (on a Tuesday!) with a new theme for discussion. There’s often times 1-2 speakers, and casual conversations that follow. If you identify as a ‘creative’ or a ‘maker’, you’ll fit right in!

Sample Event: Networking at a co-working space, followed by a speaker sharing her advice on client experiences. 

Follow Tuesdays Together San Diego on Facebook 
Follow @tuesdaystogethersd on Instagram

The WE Society - WE (Women Entrepreneurs) cultivates structured panel-style events every quarter. Speakers share all their best secrets and tricks to success. They always choose a quality group of panelists and host many of their gatherings at the industrial-chic space, Moniker Warehouse.

Sample Event: Drinks and appetizers from Little Lion Cafe, and a 3-gal panel. 

Follow The WE Society on Facebook 
Follow @the_we_society on Instagram


Cover Photo: Sabrina Louise Photography
2nd Photo from Top: Vivienne Tyler Photography
Networking Photos: See Instagram accounts

Let's Chat: Have you attended an inspiring networking event recently? Leave a comment and tell me all about it!

7 Ways I've Been An #ImperfectBoss

The creative journey is full of moments.

Of little, seemingly insignificant wins (like when one of my dormant pins on Pinterest randomly went "viral"). I was so giddy that I called my fiancé into the room to show him the graphs and the analytics.

And it's full of lows. Of the occasional tears, of insane, moody overwhelm, of wondering whether it will all be worth it.

I don't wake up every morning, swipe on red MAC lipstick and a crisp blazer, pen some prose in a gratitude journal, and spend hours and hours cultivating my next blog post and smile to myself as I hit inbox zero. Quite the opposite.

Between my day job, wedding planning, paying bills, friend dates, networking, taking care of my apartment and my dogs, and squeezing in time for maybe one 45 minute TV show each week, life feels pretty darn hectic.

Enter the hashtag #TheImperfectBoss. I'm head over heels loving this refreshingly honest movement that Ashley Beaudin created. It's humanizing, relatable, raw, and real.

So what exactly is it?

According to Ashley, the purpose is to "break open the myth of perfection and send a message to a generation of women that being in business doesn't demand that you are flawless. It simply demands that you own who you are."

The confessions have been fiercely spilling out all over Instagram and Twitter:

"My book on Amazon got so many bad reviews I stopped reading them." 

"I've been in PJs for too many days in a row." 

"Sometimes I miss blogging for fun."

Here are mine. No shame, just realness:

1) I hid behind a pen name for years.

When I first started blogging in 2009, I was known to the world as Kinsey Michaels. Kinsey was like my alter ego. She was cooler than me. More elevated, more fun, more fashionable, more confident. I lived vicariously through her in my posts. After nearly three years, I felt like an imposter and cringed at hiding behind a thin veil of a name that wasn't my own.

2) Sometimes I get so burned out.

I don't force myself to write. I strike when the iron is hot - when my words are bubbling to the surface so fast that it's hard for me to keep up with them. The truth is, most days I get home, collapse on the couch (or in front of my computer), and don't want to do much of anything that exercises my creative muscles.

3) I constantly over-consume, instead of over-create.

Content consumption is easily one of my biggest distractions. Between podcasts, bookmarking articles, self-education, courses, and following a constant stream of threads in over 30 Facebook groups, a lot of my free time goes into learning and reading, rather than doing. It's a delicate balance I'm continuing to work on. The needle will never move forward if I only observe and take information in.

4) My laundry is out of control, and has been for months.

If you saw my overflowing laundry baskets, you probably wouldn't be friends with me anymore (or be reading this blog). For whatever reason, I can never seem to stay on top of our laundry pile! You could liken it to Mt. Everest. It excited me to see so many other creatives also mentioning their lack of consistency with this seemingly simple, arduous chore. We're all human!

5) I accepted low paying jobs from Craigslist to pay the bills.

Working for myself for three years was a tremendous learning experience. Perhaps my biggest mistake was not having a gorgeous, sparkly website selling me, my skills, and my services. Instead, I shopped my resume around to companies on Craigslist, desperately accepting whatever I could get, and often accepting far less than what I was worth, in the process.

6) I'm often plagued with overwhelm.

Overwhelm is my worst enemy. I'm the queen of to-do lists, Asana unicorns, and organization in general, but when faced with a super strenuous list of tasks, I immediately freeze up. What the heck do I do first? I only have an hour to work on something - what should I focus on? Is it even worth it?

7) I was a guest on a podcast, and haven't even listened to the full episode.

When Lydia Lee of Screw The Cubicle offered to have me on her podcast over a year ago, I jumped at the chance. I had a snazzy new microphone, and a story I was excited to share with the world. I'm so bashful about hearing my own voice, that I still haven't listened to the entire interview since it's gone live!

Confessing these seven things makes me feel so naked and exposed and vulnerable. Yet, we all feel these things. They're not always peeking out from under the perfectly curated Instagram photo, but they're there. We have good days, exciting days, hard days, and discouraging days.

And I wouldn't trade this squiggly roller coaster ride for anything else. I am living my dream!

Let's Chat: Can you relate to any of these confessions? How have you been imperfect in your business?

5 Ways To Uplevel Your Home Office

Is your work space fueling you? Does it spark motivation? Do you just want to leap out of bed and sit at your desk and create stuff, minutes after waking up?

Environment is everything, especially when you live in a 600 square foot apartment!

After listening to a Being Boss podcast episode featuring fitness thought leader Chalene Johnson, I was prompted to try this eye-opening exercise, in which you score several areas of your life from 1-10 in terms of contentment. Physical health, spirituality, growth, and love, to name a few. 

After running down the list and being a tough-as-nails critic (as in, nothing got a 10 or even a 9), there it was. Environment got a solid 5. How depressing.

Of course, I knew exactly why it deserved a 5. But seeing it there on paper was a 'tell it like it is' reminder.

How would you rate your environment from 1-10?

I could shamefully point to the pile of clothes that had been sitting in a heap for months, untouched. Or the broken Hewlett-Packard printer taking up square footage in a corner. The expired clipped coupons I was keeping in a file folder for no reason at all. The dust that was quickly accumulating within a tangle of cords and USB cables.

My home office could be easily likened to... well, let's just say from afar, it looked charming, but up close, you could see it needed a little love.

If your workspace is currently even just a little bit cluttered, you better believe it's affecting your inspiration, productivity, and drive.

These are five of my favorite go-to tips to boost that environment rating and find more happiness in your work day.
Assess your equipment and even the little nonsensical things, like your desk accessories. Is there anything that you've had forever that could use a little upgrade? 

My Coach mouse pad was over seven years old. There was nothing wrong with it other than some wear and tear, but after that many years of usage, you can imagine it had certainly seen better days! A quick hunt on Etsy quickly led me to this adorable shop. Her mouse pads are thick, great quality, and feature the most delightful patterns.

As humans, I think we all have a tendency to hold onto things. It takes me probably three rounds of spring cleaning to finally part with that one sweater I always say I'm 'going to wear.' 

Or I tell myself, 'oh, one day I'll get around to fixing that.'

My broken printer was an easy 'trash it' decision (and I can't even tell you how relieved I felt after throwing it away), however, it begs the question, why did I hold onto it for so long? 

Can you relate?

It's time to snap out of that mindset and have a field day with your trash bag! Get rid of notes you don't need, pens that are running dry, and swag from conferences that you know you're never going to use.

Everything on your desk should be working and usable.
Your workspace should be a happy place; a zone that continually motivates you to work, plan, create, and dream. [Tweet This!]

My walls and desk are surrounded by constant reminders:

The 'Golden State of Mind' canvas art hanging above my monitor, the various framed photos of family and friends, and even a little note card I bought at Trader Joe's that says, "My Favorite Thing Is To Go Where I've Never Been."

What messages will fuel your motivation when you find yourself stuck in a rut?

One of my favorite desk accouterments is a white brocade file holder from The Container Store. 

While I have a larger plastic file bin for papers I don't frequently access, I keep all of my 'of the minute' files right where I can see them.

Some of the folders I keep in my desktop file include: Gift Certificates, Travel, Inspiration, and Blog.

In the midst of my cleaning frenzy, it was immediately obvious how long it had been since I had last gone through said files.

I still had folders front and center in my file with paperwork from jobs I hadn't worked in over two years (!)

Anything that's of frequent and immediate importance? Keep it in sight. And make it a point to review and go through your files quarterly.
Clear out your inbox, unsubscribe from newsletters you never read, organize your desktop icons, keep back-ups of all of your important files, and make sure your computer is healthy and up-to-date.

This step may continually feel like an on-going, major work-in-process, but once it's done, it will feel unbelievably amazing.

Make it a point to check in on all of these areas quarterly.

Immediately, I felt lighter, happier, and more inspired to get things done.

Here are some of the tools and equipment I love that keep my home office neat, organized, and inspiring!

AOC 27" LED Monitor (my newest addition and I'm in LOVE!)
Samsung 23" LCD Monitor (similar)

I can't even gush enough about how much of a difference it made spending two hours refining my desk and work area. Between scrubbing, dusting, downsizing, and up-leveling, I felt the fruits of my labor nearly immediately. And I even find myself spending more time at my desk as a result!

Let's Chat: What is the current state of your home office? Do you have any favorite office supplies? (Or maybe something that's on your wishlist?)

How To Build An Offline Girl Boss Tribe

If you're anything like me, blogging takes up a tremendous chunk of your time and your life. In all honesty, it can be a pretty lonely and introverted lifestyle if you don't pop outside of your computer bubble once in awhile.

Sunday night was a prime example. I spent four hours in a row writing this post and creating the accompanying graphics since I was under my own self-imposed deadline. Somehow the night and the hours ticked by and before I knew it, it was 10:30 pm, I had hit the 'schedule' button, and I was more ready than ever for a hot shower and the opportunity to crawl under the covers!

The truth is, none of that play-by-play bothers me, because when I'm in my groove and in the zone, I love absolutely every second of it. It's the kind of work that doesn't feel like work. I'm also equally unphased at the fact that I ate dinner at my desk that night. Hey, it happens!

Outside of Twitter chat buddies, Facebook groups, and the gratification of hearts, likes, and the occasional comment, most of my real-life inner circle doesn't have a blog.

My fiance doesn't get the online world and is more of an observer rather than a contributor. My parents are on social media, but are super private about what they share. I have friends who read blogs on the regular and are some of my biggest cheerleaders. Thankfully, they all are great listeners and are happy to lend an ear when I feel like sharing a win or opening up about the latest project I'm working on. But the conversation can only go so far.

So how do you find your people? The ones who do what you do, that can add fuel and fire to your life, who can hold you accountable to your goals and banter back and forth with you on pageviews, podcasts, and the next post you're thinking about writing?

If you have a hobby of any kind, it's incredibly rewarding to share in that passion with others.

In building my own offline tribe, I found support, collaboration, new friendships, and a connected community. This is not to say that online networking doesn't serve its purpose, because it totally does. But it's fun to mix things up!

These are some of the quickest and most effective ways to cultivate your own offline tribe:

You don't want to miss a beat, right?

In following the conversations of other locals, you can easily identify upcoming events, new blog posts, and discussions you can jump into. Twitter is pointless as a platform if you don't use it to engage. I liken it to a cocktail party. Don't talk to yourself!

Creating a list requires a little bit of detective work and effort on your part, but it's a key step to divvy out your stream from all the other noise.

Start out by adding some of your favorite local bloggers and creatives to the list, and then find more to add by searching their friends, or using a tool like Follower Wonk to search bios and profiles that include your city or metropolitan area.

Here's my San Diego Twitter list, with over 300 accounts I added to it.

It's amazing how many events fly under the radar because they aren't promoted well or they're not reaching any channels you follow.

When I say research, I really mean research! Seek out networking events, workshops related to your niche, marketing, blogging, and social media gatherings. Check all of these sites and more:

- EventBrite
- Brown Paper Tickets
- Yelp
- Facebook (click the Events tab and scroll down to view Events Popular In Your Network, and Events Related To Your Events History)
- Meetup
- Twitter (use Keywords to search 'Chicago Event' or 'RSVP Chicago', for example).
- Local Community Websites
- Local Blogging Communities

Building a tribe can feel a little bit like online dating. When I'm at a networking event, 10 times out of 10 I'd rather have three long conversations rather than 20 quick hi/bye interactions. I like to feel like I'm really getting to know the person.

Does your city already have a blogging community? There's no quicker way to connect with other bloggers, writers, and creatives than to go to a blogging meetup.

Create your own if there isn't one! Or develop a community centered around your niche. For example, Chicago has a Food Bloggers group, and San Diego has a group for Style Bloggers.

Often times, blogger gatherings are designed for casual conversation or they involve an interactive activity, like the night I drank wine and painted a canvas with 30 other San Diego bloggers.

Bring business cards and see who you hit it off with! You can order cards on the cheap from Moo and TinyPrints (two companies I recommend!)

After the event, it's important to unleash a follow up strategy. Whether it's sending a nice note to the organizers, or following some of the people you met on social media. You could also take a peek at their latest blog posts, or write a recap of the event you just attended!

You never know who you'll cross paths with, and I'm so happy I met Kylie Burnside Anfin. We were working long hours at a financial services conference, and for most of the few days, I didn't even know who she was.

One day, we ended up sitting at the same table together at lunch, and she mentioned in conversation that she was a fitness blogger. Instantly, I perked up and asked her more questions about what she was working on.

Like a total creeper, I found her website later that night, and once the event wrapped, I sent her an email. That email led to more emails, which led to us connecting at nearby coffee shops every month where we gabbed about the ups and downs of running our own businesses. Since we met, she re-branded her website and even launched a podcast!

Masterminds are one of the quickest ways to cultivate strong relationships, hold yourself accountable to your goals, and dig deep into business and blog 'real talk.'

What's a mastermind, you ask? It's basically a set group of people (usually 4-6 on average) who come together and have regularly scheduled meetings (either in person, over the phone, or through Skype/Google Hangout).

The meetings take the form of sharing wins and achievements, providing advice and support, and setting killer goals for the following week.

It's a safe space to get no-holds-barred feedback on your newest logo. It's where you can jump for joy over the new client you booked, or have a complete meltdown of overwhelm.

I'm obsessed with masterminds because they really are like having your own mini-tribe of awesome bosses in your corner. It can easily be the most valuable thing you'll ever do for your blog and/or business.

Test the waters by reaching out to a couple of trusted connections, and see if they're interested in committing to one.

Let's Chat: How do you cultivate connections offline and in your local community?

Cover Photo by D.A. Studios

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