Inspired by my trip to Alt Summit last week, I was reminded of the importance of getting out of your comfort zone and trying new things to feel inspired and connected. But you don't have to attend an expensive conference or travel across the country to do so. It's even better to build that support in the city you live in, no matter what your industry. The following list comes from things I've learned from marketing consultants, business advisors, and the trial by fire business knowledge that 9 years of running a small business brings. 1. Create a Support Group. I started a monthly group with other small business owners a couple years ago, where we discuss the challenges and successes in our businesses. And eat a lot of cheese while doing so. 2. Host an Event. This can be anything from teaching a class relating to your expertise, or even asking another maker or designer to teach one in your studio. We've got a fabric dyeing class in the works right now, taught by Nora Renick-Rinehart this summer. Also, we taught a card making class at West Elm, pictured above. 3. Donate your Time. This of course, could be relating to your business again, or just doing something you love to find other like-minded people out there. Whether you volunteer in a community garden or tutor kids in your neighborhood, it's just getting involved that helps you feel connected. 4. Collaborate. The wedding industry is known for creating beautiful inspiration shoots to showcase their work, which can be a really fun way to get to know others in your field. Or collaborate with another business owner who can bring something to the table you can't, like a great calligrapher and stationery designer, an illustrator and fabric weaver, or a writer and photographer. 5. Say Thank You. This might be the most important. I think saying thank you does so much more than just lets the recipient know you appreciate their action, gift or time. It's a reminder of our connectedness to each other, and, is often neglected. And what better way to feel connected, than by personally putting pen to paper on lovely stationery, finding that special stamp, and dropping in the mail- it's just intimate to share our appreciation this way.