I used to work for two really big, bustling companies that literally never slept. Sydney-siders would know of them and people who have visited Sydney would know of them too: Sydney Theatre Company and Sydney Festival. I was completely surrounded by people all the time. I could bounce ideas off other people, I could ask questions quickly and more importantly get responses in real time. I could talk to five different people on my way to making my morning cup of tea. When I made the transition to working from home, everything changed.
I found myself isolated. Now I don't mean that in a bad way. I thoroughly enjoy being alone, but there is a void when you work from home that is undeniable.
At first, I didn't mind it all. And to be honest, sometimes I still don't mind it! But sometimes that lack of interaction can weigh you down, make you second guess your decisions and make you feel really lonely.
So I started to seek out ways to meet and interact with other people. Now I prioritise connecting with others as a business activity as well as a social activity.
Here are a few of the ways I love to connect with others:
CONFERENCES + EXPOS
I attended the Business Chicks 9 to Thrive expo last year. It was a massive event with hundreds of business women in one place! I walked in and instantly realised these women were just like me. These were my people! I met so many wonderful ladies that day and despite going to the expo alone, I really didn't feel alone!
The best thing to do at a conference or expo is to just get out there and talk to other people. Everyone is there for the same reason: to network and connect with others. Sometimes it is hard to remember that, and it can seem scary walking up to a stranger and asking what they do for a living, but that is exactly what you should do! A few other tips:
- Take a stack of business cards and give them out!
- Dress the part and embody your business mission. Looking the part leads to feeling the part, so plan your outfits and never wear uncomfortable shoes. There is a lot of standing up!
- Take a notebook to jot down inspiration. Conferences and expos are full of things that will get your creativity tingling, so be prepared to take some notes if inspiration strikes!
One of my favourite ways to connect on a daily basis is through Facebook groups. I am a member of a bunch of groups and while my attendence fluctuated depending on my schedule, I try to post as often as possible.
People use Facebook groups for a variety of reasons:
- To seek advice and ask questions.
- To connect with others by answering questions and sharing knowledge.
- To promote a project, product or website.
- And most importantly, to build meaningful relationships with people just like yourself!
You can find Facebook groups in your niche by simply typing: YOUR NICHE FACEBOOK GROUPS into Google or directly into Facebook search. Some of my favourites include: Blog + Biz BFFs and For Love + Money.
WEBINARS AND VLOGS
I feel a little bit like a fraud by saying this, because I haven't actually created any Vlogs or hosted any webinars, so let's rectify that problem right now! It's super short!
A great way to connect with others, especially those that live a long way away from you, is to set up Skype meetings. If there is someone you want to get to know, I encourage you to drop them an email and explain that you are interested in their work and what part specifically grabbed your attention. Tell them a bit about yourself and propose a Skype session to get to know each other a little better.
My favourite way to do this is to suggest a few dates and times and allow the other person to select what works best or offer a counter time. Let them know you will be making a cup of tea or coffee to bring along and have a nice little introduction chat. Keep it short, about 15-20 minutes is a great length of time.
Skype meetings are also a great way to get to know potential clients. Spending only 10 minutes on a Skype call will make it clear to you if you are able to work with someone and if you can truly help them. You can get insights into their personality, attitude and expectations far quicker than you can through email and for the client, it makes you a person rather than a robot on the other end of email.
SHARING PERSONAL STORIES
Lastly, your blog is actually a great place to connect with people. By sharing your own stories to illustrate the topics you are writing about, you give people a glimpse into your world and they automatically feel more comfortable and connected to you.
This doesn't mean spilling your secrets, or worse, oversharing information about yourself. I simply mean share your own experiences instead of writing only in abstract terms. There are a few really strong reasons to illustrate blog posts using personal stories:
- Stories help to make the topics you write about stick in people's minds - they start to feel that they heard the story from a friend rather than just reading a faceless blog.
- Sharing stories builds trust and authenticity. Readers are constantly making judgements about the value of what they are consuming online, personal stories reinforce your writing with solid proof of what happened in real life.
- Stories help to keep reader attention for longer. When I am listing to speakers at conferences or at training courses, I always remember the speakers that tell stories. They keep my attention throughout and it says in my mind - what more could a speaker want!
Working from home absolutely has it perks. Like when you just can't be bothered getting dressed, for instance, is a huge plus! But there is also another side that can leave you feeling quite alone and unsure. But honestly, since I started making connecting with others a priority, I enjoy my isolation again because I know it's not long until another opportunity for interaction will be on my doorstep.
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