When I first started freelancing in 2015, my goal was autonomy.
I wanted to be free- free from bosses, jobs, commutes, cubicles, coworkers, and limitations of all kinds.
I wanted to make great money, on my own terms.
Just as importantly, I wanted to be geographically free – to be a “digital nomad” who could make great money working from a coffee shop in Thailand or a coworking spot in Atlanta.
And that’s a cool and worthy cause, to have that kind of freedom. No doubt.
But as I’ve matured as a freelancer, autonomy – especially the geographic kind – has become less important to me.
These days I’m far more interested in connection.
In my entrepreneurial journey, it’s been relationships that paid off most.
Referrals from past coworkers, people I’ve met at conferences, and folks I’ve met at meetups, have been my best sources of business.
Meeting with ‘your people’ face to face for an hour is better than a month’s worth of long-winded Facebook posts, in my opinion.
Now, you absolutely can succeed as an entrepreneur solely working over the net. Lots of people do it.
But for me, I’m all in on connection in 2020.
My goal is one in-person meetup per week: coffee with a fellow entrepreneur, a meetup event, some kind of business workshop. Anywhere smart, business-minded people gather, really.
The purpose isn’t to generate leads. It’s to start conversations, to connect, and help people where I can. Building my network.
It’s still kinda new for me, since old introvert habits die hard. But I’ve found networking can be pretty damn fun when you do it with the right mindset.
If you’re passionate about what you do, if you’re invested, then meeting with your kindred spirits is a total blast.
There’s no need for fake smiles or superficial gladhanding. Just be who you are, be interested, and be ready to learn. Do that, and connection happens naturally.
I’m even starting to see content – blog posts, videos, even Facebook comments – as a proxy for that kind of in-person connection.
I’m starting to ask: how can I make my content carry the same energy as an in-person chat? How can I make it real for the person reading it or watching it? That’s something I’m exploring right now.
How about you? Do you make time to meet up with your people regularly, and how do you go about it? I’m interested to hear, maybe I can get some good ideas to use myself 🙂