Overcoming loneliness when you work alone

overcoming loneliness

Don’t let yourself get lonely

[Tweet “Being a sole trader, or a freelancer, can be a lonely old place.”] Most of us work from home. Many of us will largely rely on resources like LinkedIn for our networking. And the majority of our interactions with others will take place over email.

Contrast that with my previous life, in that building called er… oh yes, an office. Chats at the water cooler. Break out areas for brainstorming. Meetings. Office parties and company conferences.

Does just thinking about it make you want to cry into your pot of coffee for one?

Stop! It doesn’t have to be this way. Company, colleagues, a social life and support do not need to be an elusive, distant memory.

Without a ready made set of colleagues, clients, suppliers and peers, you need to get out and find them. It takes confidence, yes. It can be time-consuming, sure.

But it can be a sanity-saver and therefore well worth the effort.

So without further ado, [Tweet “here’s how to start overcoming loneliness.”]

overcoming loneliness

It may not be face-to-face but Skype can help

1.      Where possible arrange face to face meetings. Or at the very least do Skype or telephone meetings, so that not all communication with other human beings is digital. Face to face meetings may require more time and organisation. However the relationship that can be built up through even just the initial stage being face-to-face is invaluable, and a good first step in overcoming loneliness. You’ll learn so much more about your client or colleague from their body language and as the relationship is stronger, they’ll share more. Once the initial embarrassment is over (what do you look like/where will you be sitting), the rest will be worth it, believe me.

Read: How do you manage communication preferences?

mentor won't make network intros

Don’t feel threatened talking to other people in you field

2.      Speak and meet with other people in your industry. Initially you may think ‘but I don’t want to share any secrets, and they might want to steal my ideas’, but it’s highly unlikely you’ll encounter anyone out for skulduggery. In the past I’ve chatted with other copywriters, to consider back up options in times of high capacity; to share tips on everything from sourcing work to pricing to how we approach a brief. If you’re good at what you do, there should be plenty of work to go round, and building connections with other people in your industry can be invaluable for learning and self development.

Read: How to become a sector authority

overcoming loneliness

Networking can stop loneliness in its tracks

3.      You know I’m going to say it. There’s no way to avoid it. NETWORKING. Yes, something I avoided for a long time. Something that for many of us takes a huge step in confidence. But a step that can change your life, and a good step to overcoming loneliness. It goes without saying that you need to find the right networking group. Formal/informal, large/small. But once you’ve found the right one/s, these people will become your colleagues who will support you and have your back. It’s also an opportunity to rediscover and practice those rusty old skills in presenting, selling, communicating and relationship building, in a familiar and comfortable environment. And if you can’t find the right networking group, set up your own! A brave client of mine stepped out of her comfort zone and did this, with great success.

Read: B.A.S.I.C. A networking strategy for women

gender balanced conferences

Conferences are a great way to get out and build relationships

4.      Attend industry courses, workshops, conferences. A fabulous way to chat with industry peers, be among professionals, learn and take things at your own pace. New to the whole networking lark? Attend as a delegate, walk round, attend sessions and simply learn as much as you can. Then as your confidence grows, collect business cards and start contacting people to build your own network and circle of professional colleagues. The more people you can connect with, the closer you will be to overcoming loneliness.

Upcoming event: Lead Don’t Lean – Boost your Impact in 2017 Workshop #1

Don't be afraid to make your one into a two

Don’t be afraid to make your one into a two

5.      Upscale and take someone on or form professional associations and partnerships. Of course this depends on the stage and nature of your business. But a problem shared is a problem halved. Even just one additional person working alongside you is a place to bounce ideas, share workload, challenge one another and have more interaction, professional conversation and well, a person to gossip with over a coffee. And who knows, [Tweet “that leap in the business may be the start of a new chapter.”]

Don’t be a lonely sole trader in 2017. Surround yourself with colleagues, peers and friends. Ones which won’t judge you or compete against you, but will support and challenge you.

Originally posted on LinkedIn on Dec 21 2016

Need help networking or looking for a mentor? Contact 3Plus now!

Elizabeth Hibbert Contributor
Elizabeth is an Oxford University educated, former advertising Client Services Director turned professional writer, marketer, small business owner and mum. With a deep understanding of the impact of words, she makes business communications powerful, engaging and effective.
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