Sorry, Mom. I Made Friends On The Internet with the Business Besties

In today’s episode of Rocky Mountain Marketing, we’re featuring episode 1 of Business Besties where Kendra and I talked about how entrepreneurs can build relationships online. We’ve only met face-to-face twice last year but it’s like meeting a long-time friend. It’s like having an accountability partner. It’s so interesting to note, as Kendra said, “We may all have our 20-plus-year friends, but there’s this only one person whom we can call and talk about anything about our business.”

Listen in as we talk more about our friendships over the internet and how can this benefit both your personal and business growth.

Kendra’s website:


Learn more about Katie and Next Step Social Communications:


Katie Brinkley 0:02

Welcome back to Rocky Mountain marketing. I am so excited to bring you a new feature of Rocky Mountain marketing. I am going to be sitting down with my business bestie Kendra Suarez once a month to bring you some of our insights to running our own businesses and some of the struggles that we’ve faced along the way. So here is the very first business besties episode of Rocky Mountain marketing. Hi, I am Katie Brinkley, and I am joined by Hi there. I’m

Kendra Swalls 0:36

Kendra Smalls.

Katie Brinkley 0:38

And we are business besties. We met online and we have turned into not only just great friends, but we have also learned that we are great accountability partners as well now, Kendra, I would love it if you introduce yourself just a little bit so that everyone can get to know you and your amazingness Thank you. Yeah, so

Kendra Swalls 1:00

I am a photographer and business coach. I am a girl means business. I am a former teacher. I’m a mom of two girls, and I currently help mompreneurs to build and grow their business through relationship marketing strategies. And I also have my photography business that I run where I help women find their competence behind or in front of the camera. I’m the one behind the camera. And yeah, I’m just kind of trying to find the balance of all of those things. Plus being a mom, a wife, a friend, a daughter, all of the above.

Katie Brinkley 1:35

And I am a social media strategist. I have been helping personal brands, entrepreneurs, coaches, with their online social media strategy for almost 18 years now. And I am a huge podcasting fan. I started my first podcast back in April of 2020. And I fell in love with it. I come from radio, that was my dream job back in college and I landed my dream job working as the locker room reporter for the Denver Broncos and the Colorado Rockies and Colorado Avalanche right out of school. So I always wanted to get back into radio. Podcasting was my way of doing it and I’ve been blessed to have Kendra on my podcast Rocky Mountain marketing twice now I have been on Kendra’s podcast, grow means business. And every time she and I talk, we realize that we have more in common with each other than then really I ever thought was possible. She’ll say something that will be like, Yes, same. can dry. You have two girls, you help coach mompreneurs and you’re also a mom, you are living the mom life. You have two little girls that are eight and five, correct Ivan nine, I have a nine, five and nine. Mine are seven and four. So again, we just have so much in common and we became business besties and it happened all online. So we are going to talk about today making friends on the internet. Mom, I’m sorry, I let you down. I did make friends on the internet. I met them in real life. And Kendra you came on out to Colorado we’ve met in real life twice now. Yeah,

Kendra Swalls 3:13

it was so funny. You said that. Sorry, mom. Because I was when I came to visit you the second time. And we did our little like get away retreat together to steamboat. I did. I posted I was like, when I was younger it was don’t talk to strangers. You know, you don’t get in the band with a stranger have every candy. Don’t talk to him. Like you just kind of do one thing. And then when the internet came around,

Katie Brinkley 3:33

I said I’m not as creepy as you know, taking candy from a band. But

Kendra Swalls 3:38

no, there was no I did get in your car. But there was no candy. So I I remember when the internet came along, and like AOL messenger and all these things that was just kind of taboo thing of like you don’t meet people on the internet. Like I even had a friend in college, one of my like dorm mates. And we made this whole big deal about the fact that she was gonna go meet this guy and have a date with a guy she’d met on the internet. And we were like, they’re gonna meet at like a waffle house. I’m like, This sounds shady. Like you just, you don’t know, it could be a serial killer. Like you don’t know this person. You’ve only like, chatted with them. And it was just it was not something that you did. And I love that now like, well, I’m like, tell them like, Yeah, I’m gonna go hang out in Colorado for a few days in a cabin in the mountains with two people that I’ve never met in real life before. And it’s just like, no big deal. Like, sure. That’s what happens now. It’s crazy.

Katie Brinkley 4:29

Well, the reason why we wanted to talk about this today is because after everything that happened in 2020 I think that it’s the idea behind meeting somebody online and internet friendships has completely changed. I mean, the Internet has changed the world in too many ways to count but I think that it the relationships and the connections that you can have and will willingness that people have to meet people that they’ve met online has completely changed then like you said, the World Wide Web was strange and mysterious place back in the 90s. And social media really has changed how we build our relationships. Well, I

Kendra Swalls 5:08

think not even I mean, yeah, social media. But I think that even more recently, I mean, I guess it’s all considered social media. But like you and I met on clubhouse, you know, this audio piece and the video piece, I think that had you met people, like the way that Facebook started, where it was like, Okay, you’re just kind of messaging people or putting stuff out there. And even when they had like Facebook groups came along, and you could kind of get to know people that way. It didn’t have the same power of connection and my opinion, that this these new forms of social media and these new forms of connecting with Zoom, and like I said, clubhouse and you’ve got like, video, like even YouTube, like we just feel like we know people more because there’s more ways for us to connect besides just okay, let me type out a post or send like a quick little email or message? Well,

Katie Brinkley 5:59

Kendra, that’s a really good point. Because I think there’s a lot of times where we are going on to our social media accounts. And we’re, we’re doing the pretty picture, we’re doing the great graphics, we’re using what we at the time, the best of our capabilities to reach new audiences. But I’ll be honest, I never would have done a hashtag potentially to connect with you. Or I might not have ranked in the Instagram algorithm long enough for you to even see my post. And that’s where I think that a lot of people are hesitant about doing reels doing Instagram Live, going live on LinkedIn, or in Facebook groups or joining clubhouse. But there is something magical that can happen from showing up and just talking to somebody I know that like you said, we met on clubhouse, and we met in a podcast connection room. And the very first time that we sat down and had that conversation, I believe it was for your podcast, we it took us about 30 minutes of just talking to each other before we even hit record and we’re like, oh my gosh, me too. And Anita Hill, and none of that would have we would have never hopped on a call with each other if I would have been searching hashtag podcast connection guests. And there’s a the way that people can communicate with social audio through podcasting through Instagram reels, which by the way, you are a queen at I absolutely love your real, it’s more than just business these days, you don’t need to have every single connection you make online. Be just for sales.

Kendra Swalls 7:30

Yeah, and I think so too, like and I’ve noticed, like even the way that I communicate in Messenger now is different. Because there’s so many times that it’s not just like a quick little, let me type out something to respond. Like, I love that, like Facebook Messenger and Instagram DMS, like you have that audio feature where you can record like a little audio recording and send it to somebody. And like you and I have used boxer. Like I think things like that are so helpful. Because again, you can only get so far sending somebody little short messages. I know like text messages still really big. But to me, you have to be friends with that person before you kind of get that text message level. And the way you do that is through the audio and the video piece. And, you know, I was kind of hesitant when I joined clubhouse. I was like I don’t know, and I love podcast, I love podcasting. And I think that had I not been in the podcasting world, I don’t know that I would have really jumped into clubhouse as quickly as I did and like gone all in on like 12 hour, days Sundays. Because it’s it that’s what happened

Katie Brinkley 8:35

in your defense is not like you’re talking for 12 hours, but there’s so many conversations happening, that you can be a fly on the wall for, you know, and and learning so much from people that want you might spend 1000s of dollars to go here, speak at a conference or an event and you can go in and hear them and maybe even ask you raise your hand and ask them a question. So

Kendra Swalls 8:57

yeah, well, I think that that’s part of what helps is that the barrier to entry is so low, you don’t have to pay to go to a conference and meet people that are in your similar area of expertise. You don’t have to, you know, and it’s sometimes it’s still scary like on social media to send people a DM it feels awkward. But if you can go on clubhouse, and you can hop into a room and you can listen to people talk when there’s people that I’ve I go into clubhouse rooms on a regular basis. And I don’t know that we’ve ever really fully had a conversation just like outside of me being in their rooms, but I feel like I know them and I feel like that if I needed something I could reach out to them. And that’s you don’t get that in a lot of other formats unless and even if you because I used to go to photography conferences all the time, and I loved them because of this reason of like, I didn’t have people like a community of other photographers that got what I did. And so that’s how I was seeking it as I was paying to go to these conferences, but then they were like all over The United States and you, you’d show up and you’d see like group, it was almost like being in high school again, you’d see these groups of people clustered together that either like knew each other, or were like, had been in a class together, and now they’re all hanging out together. And you’re kind of like walking in with your lunch tray going, like, Where do I sit? And it’s hard to make those connections. And it’s scary, and it’s intimidating. And so I think that some of these apps now and they ability to connect, it lowers that fear level, because you can just be like, Okay, I’m gonna send a quick little message. And if they don’t respond, they don’t respond. It’s not like, earth shattering or devastating in front of a group people to be rejected, you know, it all goes back to high school cafeteria. Let’s

Katie Brinkley 10:40

just got right. Well, and I was gonna say to you, I think that that’s a really good point, what making friends online is now I mean, think of Facebook groups. About four years ago, we saw Superbowl ads for Facebook groups, and it was kind of like what, all right, but the whole purpose behind it is about building community. And when you have that community of people, so I’m just going to go back to clubhouse two, because if you have a title of a room, everyone in that room is interested in that topic. It’s the exact same as a Facebook group. And what you do outside of that clubhouse room or outside of that Facebook group, that second level of sending an Instagram DM or shooting a Facebook message. That’s how the real connections are formed. And I think that you do need to choose which platforms you want to try and really build your community on its you can’t be all in on LinkedIn and trying to find your community there. And also in a ton of Facebook groups and building a community there and then hosting a ton of that’s a full time job. Talk about 12 hour days. And so I think that choose the platforms where you’re building your community that have the community members that you really care about, for you and me, I think it is both clubhouse and Instagram. That’s really how I have built in and grown and formed some incredible relationships.

Kendra Swalls 11:59

Yeah, well, and I think it’s important too, that we talk about, like, why it’s so important for us to have these friendships, because I think a lot of people listening might think, well, I’ve got like, a really supportive husband, or I’ve got tons of friends, you know, I mean, I have an amazing friend group outside of my business. And we’re we go on vacations together. And I mean, we’ve known them for 20 plus years, and like, it’s a solid friendship group. But as much as I love them, and as much as they are such a huge part of our lives, and we are living our life with them. They aren’t somebody that I will go to when I have a really bad day at work, or when I’m like feeling really down like that’s my text you, that’s when I call you, that’s fine. Like, Katie will get it. And I think that if you’re listening to this, and you’re thinking like, but I’ve got friends, okay, that’s great. But do you have friends that you can talk to about your business, you do have co workers, I kind of think of it like having co workers, you know, I went from teaching and elementary school where there were 30 to 50 other women surrounding me on a daily basis that I could go to and like just on my conference period be like, Hey, can I just come in and chat with you because I need to have conversation about someone who gets this. And when you leave that environment, and you now are like sitting in an office by yourself, you know, like I see you’re sitting in your office right now. And like, it’s you’re not you don’t have like a team of people in there with you. I’m in my home office by myself all day, most of the day, you know, and it gets exhausting and tiring and lonely. And you need people that you can go to who are going to talk you off the ledge and they need to talk you off the ledge who are going to cheer for you and like celebrate with you when something happens. But that also just will check in on you. Like I know, there’s been times where like, I kind of go radio silent on social media, and you’ll message me and be like, Hey, I haven’t seen you or you’re okay, like what’s going on, you know, and I need that because if not, I will go into my shell and I’ll just like hide from the world. And so you need those people, they’re going to recognize those those moments in you and that will come to your aid or come to you to be like, Hey, let’s let’s get you out of this. Let’s keep moving forward.

Katie Brinkley 14:06

And 100% agree. And I think that the world of solopreneur ship can be very lonely. And if you don’t have that group of people, like you said around you to support you hold you accountable and just be there to share your wins and share your struggles. And almost when when we went to Steamboat, you know, we had our little mastermind of, okay, what are we going to work on before the end of the year? What are some things that you want to try and achieve during 2022? What are some things that you want to check off of your list and they might be huge things like building a course or could be something simple like hiring a VA so it doesn’t matter what your goals necessarily are. If you have other people there that that get the journey, they understand that Ernie they can make a world of difference now, you know, I think that being intentional with what you are commenting, liking and engaging with I think it does Make a difference. If you are showing up in somebody’s Instagram feed on a regular basis, providing great comments and value. The next best thing to do from there is take the conversation over into the DMS. And a lot of times I see people show up in my DMs I’m like, I don’t know if they are really trying to form a friendship or if they’re just being creepy. And that’s where I think that starting a conversation in the DMS if you are not active on a platform like clubhouse, where even if you are active on clubhouse, the next step of the relationship from talking on stage with somebody is going into the DMS and you can’t just show up and be like hey Kendra, or Hey, girl.

Kendra Swalls 15:43

Yes, no, please no, hey, girl emails or messages, please don’t do that. So I found a couple things that I really enjoy doing. I’m going to mention one that’s a clubhouse one. And no clubhouse has their back channel. Now. I did not want it every day. And I opened it up and I was like, Oh my gosh, I have requests. I have like seven or eight people that had messaged me that I never even like saw and I wrote, I’m so sorry, I didn’t message you sooner. And so I can just

Katie Brinkley 16:07

before you move on to the point of this, but the clubhouse back channel. While I think it is a great idea for people on stage, the true relationship building is on Instagram, DMS, that is where the relationship is built, if you hear somebody talking on stage, or if you connect with somebody, if you’re reading somebody else’s bio, and you’re like, Oh, I really like what this person is about. You need to take it off of clubhouse and take it onto one of those evergreen platforms like Instagram, because people are on Instagram a whole lot more scrolling through the feed than they probably are listening and engaging in clubhouse rooms.

Kendra Swalls 16:41

I agree. Yeah. Well, so I think I was in, I want to say maybe even you said this is maybe one of the rooms you were moderating with Sue. But you talked about like, even if you’re not on stage, like look at who’s around you in the audience and like go reach out. So I’ve started doing that because there are some rooms where like, I can only pop in for a few minutes. Or they’re at the end of their time. I don’t want to like get on stage. So I will I’ll just look at who’s in the audience around me. And I’ll go to their Instagram. But here’s what I’ve been doing. Because I like as much as I’m an extrovert to some degree. I’m also like, I overthink things. So I overthink like every message I’m going to send. And so what I’ve done that feels a little less intimidating is I go into their stories, like their Instagram stories. And if they’ve posted a story that I can somehow respond to that puts me in their DMS and now it’s not just me going in and being like, Hey, girl want to be friends? Because that’s kind of creepy. It’s more like me being like, Hey, I’m reacting to something that you have shared, but it’s different than commenting on their posts. Because when you comment, it’s just kind of like okay, they get notified someone commented they might comment back. But when you respond like at the bottom of the story, there’s that little message bubble. I think it says either reply or message I can’t read it says but if you type something in there, even if it’s just a reaction, like even if you just put like a little emoji or you put something like like someone posted the other day on their stories, and they were showing like theirs, it was like their after workout snack and it was like a spoon with half peanut butter and half Nutella. And I wrote that I just typed it. I was like How have I never thought to do this before. That’s amazing. And it led to like a conversation. But had I done that, like said that on a post that they had done as a comment it would not have gotten through DMS we would not have continued the conversation and it wouldn’t have led to other things. So if you are I think like hesitant to just randomly DM somebody that’s a good way to kind of break the ice without feeling like you’re being like that hey girl person.

Katie Brinkley 18:45

No, I absolutely love that that is a great tip because it shows like hey, I’m I want to learn more about you. And again, I That’s why I did say and I say on a regular basis about while I might be on stage or whoever you’re listening to is on stage I’m sure they have a lot of great things to say. Look at who you’re sitting next to because it could end up being a potential business partner, a potential best friend so you never know who you’re sitting next to in those clubhouse rooms, read the bios and go check them out learn more about them on Instagram I think that one of the hardest things to to keep in mind when you are making these new connections with people and this is why our relationship blossomed so quickly Kendra is it can be hard to understand people’s tone when you are just reading something I know you mentioned it earlier about sending a voice message now if you show up in somebody’s stories responding with a voice message it might seem a little forward or a little coming out a little hot so I do like the you know respond to someone’s stories with a compliment or a question or, or like what you suggested with the different emojis. But the sooner that you can move your conversation to voice or video, the faster you will realize whether or not it is a good if it’s a good fit. And this is both for business. And for personal. I know there’s been plenty of people, I’m like, Ooh, this is an ideal customer for me. And then we get on a phone call, and I’m like, Nope, I’m an ideal customer. For them, I’d like to do business with them, you know. So the sooner you can move it from text to voice, I think the faster the relationship will grow, just because it is hard to understand tone, you don’t have those, you know, body language or social cues, when you are sending a DM. Yeah, and I

Kendra Swalls 20:31

say this a lot like on my podcast, I talk about the fact that like when you and you probably see this too, like you get pitched people to be on your podcast, and they’ll send you like a little one sheet. And it’ll have you know, their headshot and their bio. And it’s all very professional, I always joke that most of them have like what I call the realtor pose, which is, you know, your half to the side, arms crossed or a hand on the hip, and you got this little cute smile. And it’s all good and great. But I don’t know who you are as a person, until we get on to the Zoom call, and I can see you face to face or even if we have to turn off video for connection purposes or whatever. And it’s just us talking. That’s when I’m like, Oh, this person’s like, someone I could really, you know, connect with it happened earlier this week with another episode I was recording. And I almost turned down her request to be on the show because I was reading her bio, and I was looking at photos. Like, I don’t know if this is really like a good fit. Like we’ve had, you know, I’ve had other people on, they’ve talked about the same topic. And I don’t know if it’s gonna be different enough, but there was just something that made me say, like, Yeah, let’s do it. And as soon as I started having a conversation with her in person, and I mean in person via zoom, it, it all clicked. And I was like, this is somebody that I want to continue supporting and having and being a part, you know, like finding ways to work together, finding ways to support each other. Because that one little headshot photo that I sent in that I got my email from her and that short, little bio, it didn’t do it for me, it just didn’t. But when I actually had conversation, I got to hear like, their her inflections, and her, you know, the comedic timing of things, and just her personality come through, I was like, This is my kind of people. So it’s just so powerful.

Katie Brinkley 22:14

Exactly. And I think that Kendra, you know, that is one thing to keep in mind. Not it’s just like real life, internet, friends, her just like real life, friends, there’s gonna be people out there that are your people, and people out there that it’s nothing against you or them, they’re just not the right fit. And you will find as you go through these relationships, who are your people, and I think that it’s best to do yourself a favor to try and find those friendships and relationships that help you grow, feel good about yourself and inspire you. So if you can find people, like I’ve met people on on the internet that are two, three steps ahead of me. And it’s just nice to have them in my network not to say come and give me business coaching, you know, necessarily, but just to see what they’re doing. And say like, Hey, have you noticed XYZ? Have you noticed your Instagram reach going down? Have you noticed a massive drop in followers? Yeah, actually, I lost 600 followers one day, it looks like you know, Instagrams probably doing a sweep of bots. And it’s like, okay, good. It’s not just me. So yeah, it’s great to surround yourself with people that help you grow, inspire you and provide value in your life that just like you would in real life.

Kendra Swalls 23:28

Yeah. So Okay, quick question for you. Because I’m curious. I don’t remember how this happened. But that’s like, I know, we met on clubhouse. I know, we started having conversations in the Instagram DMS about being on the podcast. But I don’t remember when it kind of went from this as a like podcast guest to this is somebody that I’m going to talk to on a regular basis. This is somebody that I because I think that that it’s easy for people to say like, Okay, this is somebody that I’m going to like support on social media. And we’ll have a very surface level connection and friendship. But how did we take it? Was it just through texting and talking like I don’t even really remember. I know

Katie Brinkley 24:07

that when we had our pre zoom call. We both hit it off. And then I remember, we did both of our podcast episodes back to back. So we essentially got to talk for an hour straight learning each other story that was that I was like, Oh, this is great, you know, and we continued our conversations. We saw each other in more clubhouse rooms like oh, there’s Kendra, I’ve been on our podcast. What more do you have to say? So we continued hearing each other speak and then before your podcast episode came out with me as the guest on we did a real together. And that’s real. We kind of were talking about ideas, we again realized how much we have in common and obviously we’ve only hung out in real life twice. So we are continuing to learn more about each other and each other’s paths but it is one of those things where the more you talk to somebody even if it is for 10 minutes here 10 minutes there. The power of audio. Oh, is everything. And I think that in a world where, and I’ll be the first to say this, my mom calls me I will send her a text message back. It is just easier. And one of the things we all learned in 2020 is how much the power of voice really gives us that connection feeling can really drive our relationships forward at lightning speed.

Kendra Swalls 25:25

Yeah, no, I agree. I just I think that if anyone’s listening to this thinking, like, okay, yeah, I want this I want to make, I want to make a point in the next year to like, make connections and build a network of people because it is it’s lonely. And maybe you just don’t know anybody in your industry, or you need people outside of your industry because everyone industry feels competitive. I think that reaching out, and then just there is no in my opinion, there’s no blueprint to follow as far as like, okay, you’ve sent the DM, you’re starting to have this conversation. Like there is no necessarily like, right next step, the right next step is just find those connection points and build on those a little bit at a time. Because I think like you and I connected on the fact that like we both have daughters are about the same age. And you know, we both I don’t remember what I mean, there’s so many thing cast

Katie Brinkley 26:16

podcast and sevens. I mean, the list goes on. Yeah, well, I

Kendra Swalls 26:21

mean, I can remember like being in when we, I mean, this is great. And recently, but we were in Steamboat, and like, there’s still moments where like, we were talking about something. And we literally said the exact same thing at the exact same time at the most random topic. And I was like, This just doesn’t happen. But that we also didn’t just get to that point with like the snap of the fingers. Like we’ve been building this friendship since like January, February, somewhere in there last year of 2021. So it’s it takes time, it takes, you know, finding those connection points and building on those and not forcing something, I think also like, not being like, I want to be this person’s friends, I’m going to make this happen. Like it has to kind of go both ways.

Katie Brinkley 27:05

So I think that if people are saying, okay, Katie and Kendra, you’ve convinced me that meeting somebody online isn’t what it used to be. It’s not scary. I mean, now, let’s be realistic here. I mean, there are so creepy people out there on the internet. But this is where you kind of have to, again, build that relationship and do your vetting. If you’re ready to start your internet friend making journey, I think that one of the best pieces of advice is to to set boundaries and start small if you are active on clubhouse. Again, it’s a great place to start because everyone there wants to talk or wants to listen, and you can really see people that are in a very targeted interest. Again, based on the title of the room, everyone in that room is interested in that topic. I think that starting out with one person a week, shooting a DM to them not or liking their starting conversation from their Instagram stories as a great tip, Kendra, to start from there. I think that is a great organic outreach. To start with people that you admire. If you like what they’re doing with their social media accounts, tell them that because for the most part, especially if they are an entrepreneur, and more than likely they are going to be the one that is doing all the work behind their social media efforts and be kind and I think that there will be the haters, but start small and you never know who you could be talking to and what kind of relationship could happen.

Kendra Swalls 28:26

Yeah, and you never I mean, everybody, I think is looking for connection. So don’t feel like that you are weird or strange for wanting to reach out and build connections. I think I mean, again, like if they’re on clubhouse if they’re on Instagram, they want to build connections. And so yeah, I think that just not second guessing it or overthinking it too much. And just being like hey, I’m open to getting to know you more and seeing if we can be friends or networking or sharing supporting each other in some way. And just know that like it’s not going to come across as some like creepy thing because everybody is looking for connection on some level.

Katie Brinkley 29:05

Thanks so much for listening to this episode of Rocky Mountain marketing. As always, I’d love to hear from you. You can visit my website at Connect with me on LinkedIn or check me out on Instagram. Let’s keep taking your marketing to new heights.