It's easy to feel isolated when you're self-employed. However, you can actively combat isolation as a solopreneur by being proactive. It's important to seek out opportunities to socialize when your nature of work, particularly remote, is extremely solitary. After all, you don't want to set yourself up to be lonely.
Whether you're in a big city or more rural location, here are four easy tips to help you stay social and avoid loneliness as a daring entrepreneur.
1. Seek out professional networking opportunities
Networking is critical for any trade or industry. It can be done anywhere, but sometimes you may need to be more creative or proactive in your approach. Often, you'll need to insert yourself into professional environments to network with other solopreneurs and entrepreneurs, especially if you live outside of a major metropolitan area.
Be sure to scope out social networking sites like Meetup.com and LinkedIn groups to keep up with local events and gatherings. Another resource is tapping into national trade associations in your industry. For instance, if you're a freelance journalist like myself, there are many relevant industry associations, such as the Society for Professional Journalists and the Online News Association, that have chapters in major cities. As part of the Pre-Launch Membership you get access to the Weebly Seller Network to connect with other sellers and experts for guidance and inspiration.
2. Create a list of places to work around you
Take a moment and brainstorm the many places you can work remotely in your area. What coffee shops, coworking spaces, libraries, cafes, and other common areas with an internet connection exist around you? Utilize coworker.com to find and read reviews on coworking spaces near you. Also, search Yelp to find reviews of cafes and coffeeshops with favorable Wi-Fi connections.
Having a list to reference is helpful, so you're not going to the same coffeeshops several times a week. If you alternate between a handful of spaces, you're at least getting a change of environments, where you see different people and scenery.
3. Invite other solopreneurs you connect with to cowork
While it's important to keep a mental note of the places to work around you, it's even more critical to be making connections with people, especially those who are in a similar line of work. If you're looking to foster new connections and develop new relationships, tap into the professional spaces mentioned above. After all, a great way to follow up with a new connection is asking, “Would you like to cowork sometime?"
If you're organizing a group of buddies to cowork together and need to find out the best day for everyone, a helpful resource is Doodle, a service that allows you to create polls and invite people to vote by email.
4. Committing to meeting with clients face-to-face
Of course, many of us work with clients from all over the world, many of whom we will never get to meet in person. Because of this, many solopreneurs miss out on the benefits of healthy social interactions at work. To combat this disadvantage, try to seek out face-to-face interaction with clients, whether it's an occasion in-person meeting or a video chat session.
If you do happen to be working with local clients, propose an in-person meeting at a central location. Many coworking spaces offer conference rooms for coworkers to bring in outside clients. Otherwise, you can tap into that list of workspaces you created earlier. Alternatively, if you are too far to do this, suggest video conferencing for your next business call.
Whether you're feeling particularly lonely or not, it's critical for solopreneurs to take steps to avoid isolation, because when it does happen, it creeps up on you unexpectedly. Commit to being proactive today to dodge any mental rain clouds later. Ultimately, by meeting your social needs as a self-employed person, you are investing in your self-care to avoid burn out, which absolutely strengthens your business.