Thought leadership is a winning tactic for any solopreneur looking to raise his or her profile. Dennis Williams, one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices for 2016, shares his secrets to breaking through.
One perk of working as a freelancer is that you are on your own schedule – you don’t have to sit at a desk and can set your own hours. But over time, this independent lifestyle can feel a bit solitary; working with others is helpful for problem-solving, inspiration, and even just companionship. For all of these reasons and more, most freelancers agree that it is important to build community outside of the typical office environment. Here are 7 tips to get you started building community as a freelancer both off and online.
Build a Community Online
- Start a blog on a social publishing platform like Medium. Blogging has been all the rage for a while now, and as opposed to Twitter, it is a great way to share your more in-depth learnings and thoughts about freelancing. The unique thing about Medium is that it creates a robust network of bloggers following one another and commenting on one another’s work. On Medium, you can find others thinking through the same problems you are and engage with them through long-form content (rather than snippets of thoughts).
- Join a professional Facebook group. You probably use Facebook socially, but there are tons of professional Facebook groups for freelancers such as The Freedom to Freelance Project. Join these groups to share tips, concerns, or anything else on your mind. These groups can also be a great way to learn about open jobs and projects in your area.
- Join a Slack channel. Slack is a team collaboration tool in which groups communicate through online chat. There are Slack channels for every type of profession and dozens of websites like this one designed to help you find the channel that meets your needs. Just Google “Slack channel” and your profession and you will be sure to find what you are looking for.
- Teach online. Teaching online is a great way to meet like-minded creative professionals. On Skillshare, an online learning community for creators, there are tons of freelancers who teach both to supplement their income and to build a community in their area of expertise. You can read their stories here.
Build a Community Offline
- Try attending a Meetup in your area and field. Meetups are local self organizing groups that meet to cover a specific topic. You can attend meetings as frequently or infrequently as make sense for you. These groups are often pretty intimate, making them a great way to form lasting connections and partnerships.
- Join a coworking space like WeWork. All you need to do is google coworking in your area and you are sure to come across a coworking space. It’s more expensive than working at home, but you will be surrounded by other creatives facing many of the same problems you are on the day-to-day.
- Join a Freelancer’s Union “Hive.” The Freelancer’s Union has organized “Hives” or groups of freelancers in certain industries and geographic areas. There are Hives for finding jobs, hives for sharing tips, hives for inspirational stories … you name it. And you can apply to start a Hive if there isn’t one to meet your needs.
- Attend a Creative Mornings lecture. Creative Mornings hosts talks for creative professionals over breakfast all over the world and is an awesome way to meet like-minded creatives in your area before the day even starts!
Building genuine connections does take time, but there are tons of other freelancers out there looking for community just like you. So, pick 3-4 of these, be patient, and relish your final solitary freelancing days!