Being an introvert, I didn’t miss the hustle and bustle of leaving home every morning with bags on my shoulders and a kid in tow when I left my day job. I’m a morning person, but my mornings were still pretty stressful and it really did a number on me. Every day. Especially since I was going to a job I wasn’t excited about with and staying up late into the night doing freelance work. I was tired and unhappy.
But one of the things I did miss when I started working from home was the interaction I had with my friends at the school where I taught. I got along well with my team teacher and I had several teacher-friends who are still among some of my favorite people.
When I stopped teaching, my friends didn’t quite understand my new business. And I lost the daily connection I had when we ate lunch together or chatted before and after school. I found it essential to make new connections with other like-minded business owners.
I started by doing some in-person networking around my home. But again, as an introvert, I didn’t enjoy this. That, and I had to take off my pj’s and put on “real” clothes. (Raise your hand if you know the struggle!) I also realized that my ideal client isn’t necessarily local.
So, in an effort to meet more folks who saw the value of the online message, I started reaching out to people online. Specifically, Facebook. And since then, my business has grown and I feel like I have a nice tribe who I can turn to if I have questions, need help, celebrate successes or need a pick-me-up.
If you haven’t reached out to others online yet, you should!
Benefits of connections and community
- Bounce ideas. You don’t have all the answers, even in your own business. Having a friend or two with whom you can mutually support one another gives you a sounding board and a place to turn if you want to find out if an idea you have is viable. I’ve gained tons of support and a number of ideas from accountability partners and other small biz friends.
- Stave off loneliness. Working from home can be lonely, especially when none of your local friends are entrepreneurs. Having some cyber-friends to shoot a quick message to really helps relieve the boredom of being secluded in your office all day.
- Meet partners. I’ve seen countless business owners connect to others who eventually became business partners, referral sources and collaboration partners. And I just might have a couple of goodies on the way in a few months, thanks to collaborations with other writers and business owners. You never know who you might meet or how your business might grow until you give it a shot!
[bctt tweet=”Connect with others online and watch your business grow.” username=””]
How to build community
- Make it about them. When you’re connecting with others, don’t talk about yourself (much). Instead, make it about helping others and lifting them up. Answer questions that others ask in groups, give people props when you love their work and introduce people who you think would work well together. It’s not about making a sale—it’s about connecting to real people. And if you do that, the sales will come.
- Work at it daily. Building a community online is like dating. And, trust me when I say that I’ve done enough dating over the years to know! It takes daily work to finesse online relationships and to get yourself noticed online. Get online every day and communicate with others, on both your personal newsfeed and in Facebook groups. Then stick with it, because it takes time!
- Reach out. A few months ago, I started reaching out to people in Facebook groups, inviting them to Skype “coffee dates.” (P.S. I hate coffee. It’s just a name.) These short chats ranged from 20 60 minutes and allowed us to both talk about our businesses. More importantly, however, we’re able to connect on a personal level. The meetings are not a sales pitch. We simply talk about our previous jobs, our kids, where we live, etc. A few times, they’ve led to referrals or to some work, but that’s not the intention.
[bctt tweet=”Becoming part of a community means you make it about THEM, not you.” username=””]
If you’re part of my online tribe and want to connect for a coffee chat, I welcome it! Sign up for a 60-minute Skype or phone call and let’s get together!