The one thing that's not talked about enough is the isolation aspect of freelancing. Unfortunately, the average work-from-home creative entrepreneur can go an entire day without talking to a single human being.
For those of you, that have never given freelancing a shot you're probably thinking something along the lines of:
No office politics?! Must be nice...
However, if you've ever done a solitary activity for 48 hours or more, without talking to anyone then you've experienced just how isolating that feeling can be. Not to mention, our bodies can only work at optimal levels for around 90 minutes.
Turns out the concept of water cooler chatter is also really good for productivity. So what can creative entrepreneurs do to work around the fact that there's no water cooler chatter, in the traditional sense of the word?
Basically, freelancers have two options:
- Befriend a furry friend, and make them your typical co-worker. I tried that once, by the way, while working on an article, on a day when I also had to babysit my brother's dog . It was actually a load of fun because the dog was fascinated by every single movement.
- Or: you can find a creative way to fight against the loneliness of freelancing.
Today we're going to focus primarily on option two because let's face it, not everyone can handle a pet. Here are five creative solutions to dealing with the isolation of freelancing, and ideally making friends while you're at it!
1) Take an (offline) class
No, I don't mean go back to school, or spending thousands of dollars on conferences. Well, that works too, if you have the money to do it, but I mean take a class like...anywhere that's offering a class that you're interested in taking.
Within the first year of freelancing, I took courses at everywhere from Brainstation to my local community center and got the chance to network with a lot of like-minded people while polishing a lot of applicable skills.
Course fees were less than $30 Canadian, which is less than the cost of university-level courses.
If you're open to taking a class, you'll have a structured community to look forward to on a weekly basis.
2) Join a Meetup Group
Meetup Groups are great because they create a structured sense of community, without the pressure of the average, classroom environment. If you have an interest, chances are there's a Meetup group for that.
Everything from film buffs to people who like to write, draw, etc. can easily meet people with similar interests.All it takes is a quick web search, and the willingness to sign up for an account, to find similar groups in your area.
3) Do something outside of your comfort zone
I believe in the ultimate power of doing one thing, every once in a while, that is way outside your comfort zone.
I'm extremely introverted, so this is something that I have to actually work hard to maintain, but man, is it ever worth it! Why? Because so many great stories and experiences start with the willingness to just be brave and try stuff.
By the way, I'm by no means advocating for spontaneous decision making that was haphazardly planned out. What I'm really talking about are positive risks, where you think through your decisions, and anticipate the end result, before you jump.
Positive risks that are really worth it are ones that broaden your horizons to new people and ideas. These risks involve the willingness to travel, either in your own backyard or somewhere totally new and unfamiliar.
4) Use social media for making valuable connections
Although a Facebook like, SnapChat message, etc probably won't solve all the world's problems, social media is actually a powerful way to connect with others.
There are 2.307 billion internet users worldwide, so why not use social media to connect with others? The reason why it's so effective is simple: you can connect with a carefully targeted community, at any time, anywhere.
There are social media groups for everything from fans of popular TV shows to fans of a specific restaurant, store, or organization. As a result, if you're looking for a specific kind of person, you can probably find them online.
5) Go to conferences and special events
Last but not least, if you want to make valuable connections, with people who really get what you do, be open to going to conferences and special events.
Why? Because you never know who you will meet, and how they'll benefit your personal or professional life.
I quickly learned that it's always about who you know, not what you know. This is exactly why keeping your eyes and ears peeled for relevant events and conferences is so important.
For instance, this month I'm networking with local startups at StartUp Open House Toronto.
Next time you feel as if making new friends, that get what you go through on a daily basis is an overwhelming process, take a look at all the groups out there for people like you. Once you realize how common your struggles and triumphs really are, you won't feel so alone on your journey.
Over to you...
How do you make friends as a creative entrepreneur? Any further tips to share? Feel free to comment in the comment section below.