If you work as a freelancer or sole trader, it is easy to become isolated in your work – especially if your industry is one where you can work alone most of the time, only interacting with clients occasionally via email. Isolation is bad – but countering doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are a few things to try…
Change your work environment: This is especially good advice for people who work mainly on the computer or in paperwork. If you usually work from home, think about switching up your workplace. Find out if there are affordable co-working spaces in your area where you could go and use a desk once a week and meet other local workers. You could even just go and work in the local library or cafe for a change.
Enlist the support of family and friends: Getting support from family and friends can really help when it comes to switching off from business and getting some much-needed interaction. Get your friends to set a regular time for catching up that you can’t miss, or ask your kids to remind you to switch off the computer and go and play a game instead. If you don’t have work colleagues to bounce business ideas off, you might also want to ask a partner or friend to be a sounding board.
Get a hobby: When you run your own business, it can be easy to think about business all the time. Don’t! Make sure you make time for other stuff. Get a hobby that doesn’t relate to your work and preferably one where you will meet other people. Take up a sport (you don’t have to be great at it to enjoy the social side), join a book club or games club, or join a walking group. You’ll feel refreshed from talking to people about different topics and with different perspectives.
Meet clients: If most of your work is normally done alone or via email, see if your clients would fancy meeting once in a while for an update meeting, or talking on Skype. It gives you some interaction and also gives your clients another way of connecting with you.
Network: While I did warn about not being all business all of the time, networking with other people in your industry or other business owners in your local area can be a good way to meet people and boost your business.
You might join a networking group that meets regularly. Alternatively, if you aren’t keen on that or don’t have the time why not consider an online networking group that allows you to participate when you have the time and inclination.
And here I’ll insert the plug – if you want an online networking solution that works for you – try The Sticky Handshake. We have networks in Australia and New Zealand aimed specifically at small and medium-sized business owners that want to network their way. No fixed breakfast meetings or cheesy pitches. Just good connections that you can manage in your own time. Want to join us? Join our Australian network or the NZ network.