Being your own boss is undoubtedly liberating. There are few things better than escaping the cubicle crush to take control of your own fortune and to reap the rewards of your work, instead of having to send them up the line. However, there is an increasing problem facing freelancers and the self-employed. Loneliness is no joke, a major factor in the rise of depression in the modern age and a real epidemic in the freelancing world. However, there are steps you can take to beat it.
It might seem like a compromise or a somewhat lesser replacement for real-life contact, and it honestly is. However, staying active on social media, tapping into your network, and getting involved with conversations can genuinely make you feel a lot more connected to a community. You can find LinkedIn groups to stay connected to people in your industry more easily, too.
Build your network
Though it’s not really designed to fight isolation, that’s definitely one of the benefits of networking. The professional connections you make there can easily turn into partnerships and friendships. Look for local meetups with the help of things like the Meetup networking website. Even if you’re not forging new personal connections, you’re at least getting out and chatting to other people, socializing, and likely coming back with some insight or knowledge that will help you better run your business.
Find a place to work alongside others
There’s nothing to fight isolation lie having real, living company nearby when you work. A lot of freelancers work in coffee shops and cafes for that reason. Even if you’re not directly talking with other people, having others around you while working can be very beneficial to your sense of working in a positive, healthy space. It’s even better, however, when you’re around other people who are doing their own work. Places like The Collection coworking space are becoming much more popular as more and more people work remotely or alone. It can be highly motivating to be surrounded by others who are focusing on their work as you, and there’s nothing to stop a little socializing while you grab a cup of coffee, too.
Find a mentor (or a mentee)
Finding a mentor is a good tip for not only your sense of isolation or loneliness but also your professional development. Look into your networking groups and your professional past and you may be able to easily identify someone who you could stand to learn a thing or two from. Mentors can help you get a better idea of skills and competencies to develop, offer you their insight on problems facing your business, and even open new doors for you. Or, if you’ve been in business for quite some time, you can just as easily act as a mentor to someone who doesn’t have your experience. Investing in the success of someone else can come back to repay you when you find a reliable partner to work alongside.
Build your own community
If your business brings a lot of attention and discussion, be it through your blog, social media channels, or otherwise, don’t be afraid to build on that. For instance, you can make more appearances at conferences and trade shows, inviting members of the community to come and meet you. It’s effectively like building a network around yourself instead of having to go out and find it. Building a community around your brand takes a lot of time and means you need to start with the people closest to you, i.e., your superfans or business partners. Getting more community involvement through live streams and videos can work very well, too.
Make your work more cooperative
If you feel like you spend too much of your time working alone, you can address that, as well. You don’t necessarily need to start hiring to work alongside people. You can rent a coworking space with a few professional friends who you collaborate with on the regular. You should, of course, be careful who you partner with as they can affect the success of your business. Otherwise, you may consider working more often with other freelancers or contractors. It’s not the same as a social relationship, but it can help you create a workspace that feels more collaborative and connected.
Hopefully, the tips above show the importance of addressing loneliness, and of creating a work-life that is engaging and connected. Take the time to make sure you’re not succumbing to freelancer isolation.