Ironically for a number of novice soloists the very thing that appeals - the vision of working alone - becomes a major reason to quit.

Working solo doesn't suit everyone. Without planned habits and behaviours, isolation and loneliness is extremely destructive.

The trick is to engage in 'purposeful participation'.

If you're running a business, you're clearly participating at some level. We're talking, though, about purposeful participation, the 'purpose' in this context is to avoid the incidence of you becoming isolated or cut-off from the rest of the world.

To keep isolation at bay we must feel connected; we need to foster the habits and behaviours of a purposeful participant.

The onset of isolation is rarely heralded. One day you're chuffing along nicely supported by throngs of unseen supporters and advocates, the next you're seemingly invisible and alone.

Here are 4 networking strategies to keep you connected:

1. Build meaningful relationships

Take a look at what you're doing to foster business relationships that have meaning and a strong sense of connection.

If you've got it right, a customer conversation will bring the same joy as speaking with a good friend. You will enjoy a feeling that lasts.

Too often we ignore the 'relate' aspect of relationships as the emphasis is on sales outcomes. Look instead at building relationship as a means of furthering a sense of connection.

Hmmm. Reckon this depth of relationship may just impact on sales as well? Now there's a thought.

Want more articles like this? Check out the business networking section.

2. View your neighbourhood as a bustling office

Next, look at how you relate to those around you - the people with whom you regularly come into contact.

Isolation rarely impacts those working in a busy, populated office. Why? Because all they need to do to maintain a sense of connection (without even realising it) is breeze through a workstation or two, collecting smiles and nods along the way.

So consider your acquaintances as your co-workers - whether suppliers, neighbours, corner shop owners, couriers, or the postie.

Relate more with everyone you meet and you cannot help but feel connected.

3. Start talking to people

While email has hugely expanded communication, it has also, sadly, diluted the essential element of voice dialogue. You remember speech, don't you?

Talking with others is pivotal to the demise of isolation. Before you whizz off another email, make sure you're not missing an opportunity to connect with a fellow human being.

4. Challenge established actions

Finally, give some of your habitual actions a going over. For example, how do you travel around? Could you move by another means, one that would help you connect more? Think, too, about what you read. Are you learning anything new from your reading? When is the last time you read a teenager's magazine or tried to understand alternative music/lifestyles?

Remember, every time you take a proactive step towards getting involved, you’re taking one step back from falling into the isolation trap.

“ One day you're chuffing along nicely supported by throngs of unseen supporters and advocates, the next you're seemingly invisible and alone. ”
 
Robert Gerrish

Robert Gerrish is one of the Flying Solo crew and supports soloists as a coach and consultant. He presents at conferences and networking events and bangs on to the media or anyone who listens, about all things micro. Along with Sam Leader and Peter Crocker, he's the co-author of Flying Solo – How to go it alone in business.

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