I’m almost at month number 4 of my self-employment journey. It hasn’t been easy: I started from scratch, new habits had to be learned, comfort zones had to be pushed past and I had to tap into a level of courage that I haven’t had to tap into for years. I had to fight working myself to death, and being scared of failure.
As I began working with my clients I began to observe some troubling habits that I wanted to avoid as I moved forward. Some of the clients that I had/have were dealing with a big issue that I had dumped last year and never wanted to revisit.
Extreme Isolation and Loneliness
During the last 4 years at my old job one of the biggest issues I dealt with was an extreme sense of loneliness and isolation. In fact, I’m sure that I’m not alone in this given American’s propensity for hard work, long work weeks, and the Super Hero Syndrome. You know, we think we can do everything. But we can’t.
I don’t want to talk about outsourcing tasks and managing Super Hero Syndrome. Instead, I want to talk about managing the most important thing that will grow you as independent business owner or solopreneur.
You’ve Got To Get Your Social On
This is your number one task. I was working with a client and asked about sharing their project with their circle of friends. This person said that they had no circle. The problem with that is you can’t grow your business without people. You can’t live a balanced life without people. You must prioritize networking for the purpose of growing your business, reach, and tap into the resources that other people will bring to you.
You also must socialize to stay a sane and healthy person. In fact, my client’s lack of a circle is at odds with the work that they are doing. And, it’s not my place to point that out. This person will have to discover this on their own.
Many people will balk at networking and growing their social life because they are too busy. I get that. As a business owner you wear many hats. But, if you don’t connect with other people you and your business will ultimately stagnate because you won’t have access to information, leads, and support.
If you don’t socialize just to be social, the same issue will happen in your personal life. I should know. I was incredibly isolated and depressed and intuitively knew that I needed people. Thank goodness that I finally listened to my gut.
I face a new challenge though, working for yourself you can work for 12 hours at a time or completely lose focus. It’s a tricky space to exist in. So, I want to share some of the ways that I manage socialization (frugally) and networking while getting my work done.
My Socialization Process
- Meetup Groups ROCK! Meetup is a wonderful tool to use for meeting new people in a fairly non-threatening and supportive space. Basically because everyone wants to meet someone. Boom. Now, I do have a “rule of three” when attending Meetups because sometimes a meeting isn’t that great. Go at least three times (not in a row) to see if the group is good fit. Currently I’ve joined groups for: fitness/socialization/marketing professionals/etc. No, I’m not going everyday. But, if I see that there is a Meetup that is pretty easy to get to and it’s possible to spend $5 or less-I’m there.
- Volunteer-Find an organization that you believe in and volunteer. Help other people. There is an organization that I will begin volunteering with soon. I’ve wanted to volunteer with this organization for awhile. Now I have the schedule flexibility to do it. I can’t wait!
- Join A Team-There are so many fun teams that you can join. There are: volleyball leagues, soccer leagues, kickball leagues, and bowling leagues. There is a league for everything.
- Go To A Coffee Shop-I work for part of the day at a coffee shop. I usually rotate the shops that I go to but have recently discovered a coffee space that’s located in a free thinking business building. It’s also dog friendly. I might not like having a pet, but I do like having a friendly dog in my work space. It’s very relaxing. I order $1 dollar coffee and then get to work. Good coffee. If you find coffee shops distracting, go only after you’ve done all urgent tasks.
- Schedule Regular Times To Meet Friends and Family-I am fortunate that many of my friends have flexible schedules (as does my mom) so, I schedule time to meet with someone that I know and love at least once a week.
I’m sure that there are other ways to get social but I wanted to focus on face to face contact that’s easy to implement. I go to at least 90% of the events that I schedule myself to attend-not including my online Mastermind Group meeting that happens every other week.
My social life has improved so much I can’t even believe it! It has been wonderful to discover new people. So, I ask you the following:
Are You Meeting Enough People?
Why or Why Not?
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