The internet is a friendly place, but try telling that to the lonely entrepreneur. Technology makes running a business simpler than ever before. You can order products, chat with co-workers, and even make phone calls all without leaving home.
But it’s not always easy to find a good company in the digital world. And if you’re an introvert, it can be even lonelier still. NCR Report Cards has some more information about building a successful business without friends or family.
The best way to overcome the difficulties of working alone is to realize that they are simply that: difficult. With hard work and practice at staying social online or via video chat, you can learn how to establish connections beyond your computer screen!
1) Join Meetup groups based on topics of interest for networking opportunities.
Networking is the key to getting your business off the ground and making friends. Find local groups of people who share similar interests and meet them in person! Neil Patel suggests joining Meetup.com, a great way to find networking events, and attending “even if you don’t plan on speaking , these events tend to make for great places where you can make new friends.”
If you can, don’t miss the opportunity to speak at one of these meetups, engaging with an audience is a fantastic way to strengthen your networking ability!
2) Join online communities around topics that interest you.
Meetup isn’t the only venue for finding like-minded individuals online. If you’re a fan of blogging, check out Reddit.com, a site where users create and share interesting content with others who also find it interesting.
Or you can find a community that’s a good fit for your interests on social network websites like MySpace.com or Facebook.com, which enable you to create personal networks based on interest.
3) Take advantage of free webinars for information about topics that interest you.
Check out sites like Geeks With Lunch, which offer helpful information about topics related to computers and programming , kind of like Yahoo! Answers. Other great websites for learning about specific topics include Lynda.com (edutainment), About.com (in-depth articles), and the internet encyclopedia Wikipedia (any topic). It’s okay if you don’t understand everything on first reading, just return to the site to learn more.
4) Join meetup groups that offer training on specific topics of interest.
Whether it’s online marketing, blogging or graphic design, there are plenty of opportunities to meet other like-minded entrepreneurs with whom you can share ideas and learn from each other.
If you’re interested in marketing yourself as an expert, check out consulting group Linked In.com.
5) Set up an email account on a free web-based service like Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail
This is an excellent way to stay in touch with people you meet online, especially if you find that Meetup groups are not very active or meet only once a month. It’s also a good way to get acquainted with people whom you would like to meet in person and who may also be interested in talking to you.
Be sure to set up your free web-based email account separately from your work one; otherwise, they will be accessible by your company computer system and the information you send and receive may be seen by co-workers and employers.
6) Make a list of all the people you know ,personal and business contacts.
Whether it’s your Facebook friends or your coworkers, make a list of everyone you know, either personally or professionally.
This will help you discover who may be able to help you with work-related projects and who can serve as a sounding board for ideas.
7) Join a local non-profit organization related to a cause that interests you.
Volunteer at an organization, such as the Humane Society or Big Brothers Big Sisters, where you can meet people who share your interest in making the world a better place.
Volunteering is also good for gaining self-confidence and improving skills such as speaking in public or building relationships.
8) Go on one-on-one coffee chats with trusted friends.
These wine-and-cheese gatherings are the perfect way to get to know people who share your interests and can help you expand your network by introducing you to others.
They are also a good way to get business advice; if someone has helped you in the past, he or she will be thrilled to do so again!
9) Look at meetup groups where people tweet back and forth in real time
You can join these discussions or instant updates about events that interest you or people in your life. A new Twitter feature allows you to “re-tweet” others’ comments, spreading ideas to even more people. If you are shy, this is a good way to have conversations with people without having to say anything yourself.
10) Use Skype and other free video chats for personal connections with friends.
Skype, Yahoo! Messenger or Google+ Hangouts can help you keep in touch with friends and family who live far away.
Make a half-hour video chat date each week, and you will discover that these chats can be just as enjoyable as in-person get-togethers, after all, there’s no need to worry about what to wear or how you look!