“People in the same room understand and empathize with each other in a way that isn’t possible on the page or screen.” – Gloria Steinem, My Life on the Road
Many of us dream of working for ourselves. Of being in control, making all the decisions, and having flexibility and freedom in our schedules and in our checkbooks. Whether you’re a freelancer or independent contractor, consultant or solo-preneur, this was part of your vision.
The trouble is, once we’ve established this ideal “absolute monarchy” that seemed so awesome when we visualized it, this type of solo work environment can get lonely, especially when challenges and obstacles arise. When we lose patience with the echo of our pen tapping the desk, distractions and daydreams can creep in, bringing self-doubt and defeat along with them.
Maybe we join Facebook groups so we can send some shout-outs to other solo pros in their work caves. Or we schedule some “working” coffee dates with “colleagues” who also happen to be friends. We might even consider face to face networking events. I know, crazy, right?
“The miraculous but impersonal Internet is not enough.” – Gloria Steinem
They offer a familiar, safe haven from loneliness, a space to ask for, and offer, support.
They provide a learning connection that is ripe for idea generation and collaborative strategizing.
A group is a safe community where you can share your struggles, get different perspectives from your own, and feel a sense of accountability for your goals and tasks. There’s a give and take in a group setting that leaves us feeling like we helped as much as we needed help, and we knew as much as we learned. When we leave, we actually feel better about ourselves and our capabilities, which fuels us to head back into our independent workspace and get stuff done.
“Innovation is not about solo genius, it’s about collective genius.” – Linda Hill
You can join a networking group, a small business organization or take a class or workshop. These are great opportunities to take advantage of the power of numbers by making new contacts to stay in touch with outside of the event. Many people go to groups like this hoping to leave with long-term accountability partners, virtual team players, and professional referrals.