When you’re taking the leap into self-employment, building your tribe of supporters and fellow business owners is something that’s incredibly important and will help immensely at times when isolation feels more prevalent than freedom in running your own business.
Initially, when you make the move to self-employment and you’re not meeting up with people or attending events regularly, things can start to feel a bit stagnant. We talk a lot more about that here where we’ve compiled tips and strategies for beating work from home boredom.
Ideally, build a network around you that feels like your tribe of people, people who you can rely on when things get challenging, to support you through the highs and lows while also offering constructive criticism that’s going to help you keep growing and improving in your business. Finding a network of people that really get it and understand what you’re experiencing is really important. Find people who are in a similar position and that have the experience you can draw on but also who you can offer value to as well.
Attending networking events
A lot of people hate the idea of networking but honestly, it’s nowhere near as boring or scary as the stereotypes would have you believe. You just want to make sure that you’re attending the right kind of events. The ultimate aim should be to get yourself in a room with like-minded people that could become contacts or potential clients. Look out for relevant events on Eventbrite or Facebook, specifically searching for those that are relevant to your industry.
With events currently being held online only, this can help ease some of the awkwardness. Either way, remember that everyone at a networking event WANTS to connect with people. You wouldn’t register and attend a networking event if you didn’t. Take comfort in that.
Turn social media connections into real-life relationships
Instagram, Facebook Groups, Twitter and LinkedIn are all great ways to connect with like-minded individuals working in your industry but these relationships don’t have to exist purely back and forth in DMs or community threads. Why not take things into the real world and organise a meetup? Right now, that could mean setting up a coffee meeting on Zoom and get to know them better.
If you feel nervous about asking, remember that they were probably thinking of doing the same thing and hadn’t got round to asking yet or were worried you’d say no. Plus meeting an online connection in real life can really cement that connection within your network.
Collaborate on projects
Collaboration is one of the best ways to further connect with your network and build deeper, more meaningful relationships with other business owners. Sometimes we need to outsource work to another specialist and this serves as the perfect opportunity to utilise and build on some of our existing connections.
Plus, if part of you misses that feeling of working as a team that you had in your life before freelancing and self-employment, collaborating on a project can give you that same buzz and lets you relive that love of teamwork while still working on your own business. You get the buzz of bouncing ideas off one another and having someone on your side, helping you carry a project past the finish line while still working on your own projects.
With collaboration often comes good karma too. You never know where a collaboration could take you. You may end up developing a long-lasting friendship or collaborating on work together on a regular basis.
Last but by no means least (and perhaps the most obvious option of all), if you’re a freelancer or business owner missing the buzz of an office, your tribe is likely waiting for you at a co-working space. Co-working spaces are an incredible way to connect with like-minded individuals on a daily basis. Plus, if after this pandemic you never want to work from home again, you’ve got a space that will welcome you with open arms and free coffee.
As a human being, it’s only natural to want to find a group of like-minded people that brings you a sense of belonging, supports you and offers a safe space to share experiences and ideas. As a business owner, freelance or business communities can help you expand your professional network and support you through several challenges such as fighting off isolation, connecting with potential mentors and opening up to new job opportunities.