Build Your Success Network
The freelance journey is not meant to be taken alone. If you think about your most enjoyable vacations, often it’s not WHAT you saw, but WHO you saw it with. Many tourists take walking tours where a travelling companion or guide is essential to supporting and motivating them to continue.
Although one of the great benefits of freelancing is the ability to work from home, a virtual workplace hazard is LONELINESS. So, if you work alone as a freelancer, you need to gather people around you who will motivate you and help you become a better entrepreneur. They can help you persevere to become better at your craft and more successful as a freelancer. They can help you feel less alone. And even if you enjoy solitude, you can still benefit from a strong support network.
What can a support network do for you?
A support network can be a sounding board for ideas. These people can provide non-judgmental feedback and keep you accountable. For instance, if you promise something and fail to deliver, they will challenge you on it. They can also offer support through challenging times and share helpful ideas and suggestions. And, finally, they can be a source for finding new clients through networking opportunities.
Four Circles of Support
Your support network is composed of four circles that play an important part. The outermost circle is your online and offline community. Next is your coach or mentor, and then close family, friends, and colleagues. The innermost circle is your business champion, and this person plays a pivotal role in your support network.
Who is your Business Champion?
This is the close confidant in your life (a spouse, parent, sibling, close friend, or colleague) who has been with you through the best and worst times of your life. They are great listeners who are not afraid to challenge you when need be. They know you and your skills and will be a major source of encouragement in your entrepreneurial journey.
Other Circles of Support
Along with your business champion, you can build your other three circles of support in these ways:
Close family, friends, and colleagues:
- Connect with entrepreneurial-minded people who will offer wisdom, creative ideas, and support.
Community (online and offline):
- Connect with targeted local and online communities.
- Attend, volunteer, or speak at local events (networking mixers, monthly workshops, conferences, local seminars).
- Search “Business networking groups” + city and get connected with groups like small mastermind groups, regular meetup groups, business groups (e.g. Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, Business Networking International), and local chapters like eWomenNetwork.com.
- Seek locations where you can get work done and meet people at the same time (remote coworking spaces, coffee shops where entrepreneurs hang out, or a community library).
- Join online communities like freelance Facebook Groups, FreelancersUnion.org, or Freelance University.
Mentor, coach, or mastermind group:
- Hire a VA mentor or coach, or join a mastermind group of like-minded VAs or entrepreneurs.
How to Get Involved in Online Groups
Here are some strategies for pursuing group involvement most effectively:
- Choose 2-3 groups to join initially.
- Introduce yourself in the “Welcome” section.
- Be active in replying to conversations (best way to get known).
- Add discussion posts that bring value to the group.
- Be consistent and engaged with the community.
- Look for like-minded colleagues or mentors to get to know further. You may be able to form mastermind groups with them, or recruit one of them to be your mentor or coach.
How to Combat Virtual Loneliness
As we mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, loneliness can creep up on you and hinder your productivity and effectiveness as an entrepreneur. You can combat virtual loneliness in these ways:
- Join social clubs in your community (e.g. sports, hobbies).
- Meet with other freelancers and entrepreneurs on a regular basis.
- Take consistent breaks to connect with your favorite people.
- Join an online group.
- Look for opportunities to connect with local clients in person (where possible).
And now let’s move on to the next important group of people to pursue — your ideal clients!
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