How to use networking to beat home business blues
Isolation can take you by surprise. So it's important to make the effort to get away from your business and start networking and socialising with others.
As a soloist working from home you no doubt enjoy your independence.
One of the main reasons you decided to start your own business was so you could choose when you work, how you work and where you work. You make the rules, you are the boss.
Business is going really well. You have clients, work to do and feel that you have made the right decision by starting up your own enterprise. You find yourself waking up excited, checking emails, working on your computer all day for weeks, charging towards your goal of self-governed financial freedom and independence.
Then one day your energy dissipates and you feel you are missing something. You can’t put your finger on it so you knuckle down and get some more work done knowing that the satisfaction of completing a task usually makes you feel better.
Then one day it all falls apart. You wake up and nothing feels right. You can’t work properly. You dread turning on your computer to “deal” with all the annoying emails. Making a sale doesn’t give you a buzz like it used to. Your work ethic drops and you know your baby – your business – will suffer if you stay solemn and unmotivated.
"There is only so much solo-enterprising you can handle before you require contact with other people."
You just don’t care anymore.
So what happened?
I have experienced this de-motivated state before and can tell you why it is – the computer can’t hold a conversation with you.
There is only so much solo-enterprising you can handle before you require contact with other people. Humans, by nature, need contact with other humans. That goes for soloists, too.
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The solution is simply networking; get some friends, communicate with others and make plans to get away from your business on a regular basis.
“But I just have so many emails to respond to” or “I have to get started on my client’s report” are two examples of excuses you might use on yourself to “get out” of socialising. But you have to make the effort, even break your comfort zone, to keep things in balance. Your business will thank you for it when you wake up super-motivated because you are back to being a happy human.
To meet the kind of people that you enjoy being with and will even be prepared to leave your business to meet occasionally, you’ll need to engage in the socialising process. Step one of this process is simply choosing to be a proactive socialiser.
Next identify the kinds of people you enjoy socialising with such as other soloists or those with similar ideas and goals as you. Seek out people that bring a nice mix of business similarities, outlook on life and interests, so that you will be happy to spend time with them.
How can you do this? One way is to try meeting new people through the Internet. You already make use of online communication, at the least through email and maybe an instant messaging (IM) program like MSN or Yahoo! Messenger. With the proliferation of broadband and advances in technology, voice and video chat are real options too. I’m a big fan of Skype (free voice over Internet software) and I certainly recommend you try it if you haven’t done so already.
I used IM and voice chat initially to chat to friends I already knew and until I started my blog I didn’t really leverage this technology to meet new people. Generally my blog readers have similar interests to my own and I have made a good handful of new contacts thanks to blogging, and I hope to make many more.
Web communication isn’t enough on its own and in some ways it’s cheating because you don’t leave the computer, but it’s still a good start and will often lead you to make new friends in person.
In my next article we look at more techniques and methods you can use to stay happy working from home.