Do you feel a little like you live in a vacuum?
You're working your solopreneur socks off, getting stuff done, but in a big empty cave of introverted aloneness? Your mental space is big, echoing, empty, and you’re used to the silence of solitude.
It's not really fair -- you became a solopreneur to get out of the hubbub and love your life. But now you’ve overshot and fallen out of the social sphere completely. Your dedication has made you into the figurative gooseberry.
You might feel guilty for admitting loneliness, but there’s nothing to feel bad about. It doesn’t matter if you’re the most dedicated, introverted solopreneur imaginable -- we all crave connection on varying levels. Reaching out might feel like weakness, like admitting you can’t handle being a solopreneur.
It's not weakness. It’s a million miles away from weakness. It’s called being human. But if the only conversations you're having are in comment sections and emails, you're going to burn out. That’s going to impact your business, closing the vicious circle and leaving you feeling helpless.
Simply put, being alone 24/7 isn’t good for you, no matter your personality type.
There's no need to go cold turkey, switch off your computer and head out to find the nearest rave. You can flex your social muscles and find fulfilment in a group without betraying yourself and forcing yourself into situations you hate.
Being social, even if only for a few hours a week, is good for your health, good for your business, and good for your sanity. The best way to get started? Start small. Here are four safe ways for even the most introverted solopreneurs to step outside...
1. Go to the library
If the idea of walking into a bar frightens the keyboard-worshipping life out of you, then try somewhere famous for being quiet.
Reconnect with the physical world by getting a book -- a real one with paper and printed words -- and chilling out. You get to eyeball real humans and might even strike up a whispered conversation with a fellow bookworm. Being offline can catapult creativity. Your future self just might thank you.
The little old ladies who run libraries are always up for a little chinwag, and they're the least threatening people on the planet. They'll even do all the talking if you let them, so no need to worry about solitude-generated mumbling.
2. Go get the groceries the old-fashioned way
InstaCart and AmazonFresh are amazing, yes, but kick the online shop and go to the store in person. Get a trolley/cart. Make a list. Impulse buy some wine or iced pastries. All that human stuff.
The ladies and gentlemen manning the checkouts are always good conversation. Most of them will be elated someone's bothered to ask how their day's been and will be happy to chat. Or you could head to your shopping center and splash out on a little non-edible gift, like makeup or a new gadget.
3. Hit the gym
Yes, the gym! The gym's a little louder and more labor-intensive than the library, but everyone there will respect you for just turning up.
If you don’t fancy pitching into the open workout area, get into your social groove by joining a class: spinning, yoga, circuits, or get your moves on with Zumba and Bokwa. The pounding music will drown out your work-related thoughts, and you'll be too busy figuring out how to do the shoulder wiggle to worry about what everyone thinks of you.
It's a great way of bolstering confidence and realizing that everyone's okay with you being you, in all your shoulder-wiggling glory.
Maybe if you're lucky enough to live near some great trails and sweating it out in an enclosed space isn't your jam, join a running or walking club for the same social blast while soaking up birdsong and clean air.
4. Or even hit the bar
An oldie but a goodie.
Take a friend or two and work your way through your Bramble, or Singapore Sling, or sparkling water -- whatever floats your boat. Let the company flow through you and unwind.
Turn your phone off, shove it in your handbag and ignore it. Your phone won't combust if you don't check it every five seconds and your client won't evaporate if you're not there immediately over email. Just soak up the camaraderie, the ambience, the nibbles, and smile.
You never know -- you might meet a future client at a jazz bar or a cozy pub totally by accident. Wouldn't that be something?
The world is full of opportunity
Try the library and maybe join a reading club. Level up your grocery shopping and volunteer to do weekly shops for neighborhood seniors and make a lifelong friend. Try a wine-tasting evening to chat with your grape-minded compatriots.
Face-to-face conversations; dinners; the odd day out. These things are fun. You get to smile, laugh, unwind and take your mind off your Basecamp for a moment.
It gets you out of the house and talking to strangers in a safe place. It's also a habit that'll stand you in good stead for building working relationships. Networking doesn’t have to be a dirty word.
Businesspeople are human too, and you'll come across as a robot if you immediately launch into a sales pitch at your first meeting. Remember, people don't do business with robots. People do business with people.
Moreover, getting out more often will make you better at building relationships, which is the basis of being a solopreneur.
You'll also be happier, which will make the whole running a business thing much more fulfilling.
If you’re so inclined, you could incorporate your few hours of sociability into work. Co-working spaces are all the rage now, and you can be sure you'll be surrounded by like-minded people...maybe a fellow One Woman Shop!
The more your personal life improves, the happier you will be, and the better your business relationships will be. So, my fellow introverted solopreneur -- human connection doesn’t have to mean hitting up the latest, snazzy networking event in town. Getting human interaction on a personal level provides benefits to you and your treasured work -- it’s a win win.