One of the biggest challenges of working for yourself is that bootstrapping your business and getting started often means working alone to cut costs. And unfortunately, working as a team of one frequently leads to that feeling of being on a lonely island all by yourself with no support.
Of course you have family and friends, and that is great, but they don’t always understand what you’re going through. So what do you do when you need feedback or a little interaction during work hours? You hop on twitter or facebook of course, and get your fix before heading back to your cave.
But is that really what you need?
Don’t get me wrong, I love twitter as much as the next gal, but sometimes social media just doesn’t cut it. The reality is 140 characters or less is great, but nothing beats an in person connection.
If you’re running a business you need a support system. And not just a virtual one. So let’s start with making those initial connections.
Here are 4 ideas for sailing away from your lonely island and building a support system of meaningful (in person) connections…
1. Networking: Sure, you’re versed in the social media game, but connecting with people halfway around the world is going to present a challenge or two. So start in your own backyard. Joining a free service like Meetup is a great way to meet people in your area that have similar interests. There are so many organized events you are bound to find at least one or two that meet your needs (I found more than 1,000 options in my city).
2. Coworking: I know what you’re thinking – This sounds great in theory, but why would I pay to sit around an office with a bunch of people I’ve never met before to work on completely separate things? There are plenty of advantages to coworking, but at the top of the list for solorpreneurs is simply being around other people. And if you’re still unsure of the idea, try it on a smaller scale and invite a friend to work with you at a coffee shop for the day. Since I moved to Seattle, I’ve done this a few times and it is a huge motivator for me. It gets me out of the house AND gives me a little inspiration. A new place and a friendly face never hurt anyone, right?
3. Conferences + Events: One of the best places to reach out to like-minded business owners is at a conference or event. I’ve met so many wonderful people that way. And the connections you make at these types of things will last long after the conference is over. Remember: The people who are sitting next to you at these events are just as important as the ones up on stage. So make fast friends. You never know who you’re sitting next to.
4. Your turn: Share your own suggestions for combating that “lonely island syndrome” in the comments below.