If you’re a solopreneur, chances are good that you’re pretty independent. You’d have to be to leave behind the perceived stability of a traditional job and strike out on your own to make your way in the world.
But that fierce independence and self-reliance can quickly turn to isolation if you’re not careful. If you work from home, like I do, you might spend more time than you care to think about within those four walls. It can be pretty lonely.
Just Because You’re a Solopreneur Doesn’t Mean You Have to Go It Alone
While your friends and family are an important part of your support structure, unless they are also in business for themselves, they may not be able to relate to the highs and lows of starting a business. You need to connect with other solopreneurs.
The most immediate benefit of connecting with other solopreneurs is simply knowing that you are not alone. It’s important to have others you can talk to about the fears, frustrations and joys of starting and building a business. But connecting with other solopreneurs also provides a social outlet. Many of the people I’ve connected with started as business connections who simply understood whatever I was going through at the time. But today, I consider these men and women my friends—even if I’ve never met them in person. They are both a personal and professional support network and a great source of ideas, inspiration and referrals.
In today’s day and age, it’s easy to connect with other solopreneurs. For one thing, there are just so many of us! According to the latest statistics from the National Association of the Self-Employed, there are more than 20 million solopreneurs in the United States. You’ll find us at your local coffee shop and online engaging in conversations on social media and writing blog posts. And if you reach out, we’ll welcome you into the fold and reassure you that you are not crazy. Well, not any crazier than the rest of us!
5 Places to Find Fellow Solopreneurs
But before you can connect with other solopreneurs, you have to find them. In the next articles in this series, I’ll talk about ways to really connect with other solopreneurs and build and maintain relationships. But for now, let’s start by looking at where you can find these folks and how to start building relationships.
Stop 1: Blogs and Online Magazines. If you’re reading this article, you’ve already found one great online magazine! Upmarket is written specifically for micro-businesses and solopreneurs, so a lot of the folks here are people you might want to connect with. Most of us who are self-employed read and write blogs. Find ten blogs that are written by and for solopreneurs or microbusinesses and start following them and commenting on the posts that resonate with you. Take note of the folks who seem to be aligned with your own beliefs and who you might want to get to know. Check out their websites, follow them on Twitter and Facebook. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at the folks who contribute to UpMarket and follow their blogs!
Stop 2: Twitter. In my experience, Twitter is the single most powerful tool for online connections. You can follow folks who interest you and search for people who work specifically with solopreneurs or who are solopreneurs themselves. You can pop into a conversation or take part in a Twitter Chat, where a group of people all talk about a specific topic. If you haven’t participated in one of these chats, give it a try. It’s a great place to really connect.
Stop 3: Facebook. Many solopreneurs have Facebook pages for their businesses. Because Facebook has a very good search function, it’s pretty easy to find businesses that intrigue you. So, like a page or two, comment and participate in the discussion and if the person’s message resonates, sign up for their email list, follow them on Twitter and, when you’re ready, send a Facebook friend request with a little note about why you hope to connect. Don’t worry if they don’t accept your request. Some folks only connect on Facebook with people they know well. Others connect more broadly.
Stop 4: Classes + Workshops. I’ve made some wonderful connections with other solopreneurs through online classes. I took my first online class a few years ago and was assigned an accountability partner. She and I still stay in touch and support each other as our businesses have grown and changed over time.
Stop 5: The Coffee Shop. If all this online networking seems a little overwhelming, you can take it offline! One of the best places to meet other solopreneurs is your local coffee shop. Of course, your community might also have a meet-up or networking event specifically for folks who are self-employed.
No matter which of these methods you choose, you’ll feel a million times better once you’ve connected with a few like-minded souls. One way to get started is to share your story about making connections in the comments. Has it been easy for you? Would you like to connect with more people? Do you have any tips to add? And be sure to let us know how we might be able to connect with you.
Photo Credit: Jevuska