4 Ways For Introverted Solopreneurs To Safely Reconnect With Humanity

introverted solopreneur

introverted solopreneur

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.

Hiding in Plain Site (Don’t Just Build a List. Build a Community.)

There’s a reason that we named our e-course Building Your Online Community instead of anything to do with list building. It’s this simple: We believe that an online community goes so far beyond just an email list.

That being said, we do believe in the power of connecting with your community through email marketing. We have found it to be an incredible source of sales, collaborations, and more.

If you’re struggling to build your email list, remember: Your future community members could be hiding in plain site.

Today, here are four easy action steps to take those people from individuals you pass by on the streets of the internet to full-on community members and email subscribers.

1. Email your blog commenters

In our experience, taking the time to leave a blog comment usually means that someone is particularly engaged with your content and message. (That, or they’re spammy trolls. We prefer the former.) But often they haven’t thought to get on your email list. Today, scroll back through the last several months of your blog comments and individually email each person to thank them for their comment -- and ask them if you can add them to your email list. Better yet? Make this a recurring monthly task. (Set yourself a Google Cal reminder if need be. It’s our go-to.)

2. Email product purchasers

Platforms like SendOwl allow you to automatically add product purchasers to a specific email list within your email marketing platform. If you don’t already have this automated, take a few minutes to email all of your previous product purchasers to see if it would be okay to add them to your email list. Since they’ve already bought from you, it’s likely that they’ll say yes. (And it’s a great time to reach out for a testimonial, too!)

3. Pin a tweet + update your Twitter bio

This is actually two steps in one -- because we’re tricky. (Cue RUN-DMC: Tricky, tricky, tricky...) First, write or choose a tweet with a link that requires people to enter their email address in order to access a download, like we do with our freebies page. To pin the tweet to the top of your profile: On your feed of tweets, click the More button (the three dots) on the tweet you want to pin. Click “Pin to your profile page.” Voila! Then, change the URL on your Twitter bio to that specific landing page, as opposed to a general website URL.

4. Add a call-to-action footer

See that beautiful image at the bottom of this post? It’s evidence that we practice what we preach. Think of an opt-in that you offer (read: you get an email address; they get a download) and any posts on your blog that are related. At the bottom of those posts, add a call-to-action footer graphic encouraging people to head over to your opt-in landing page for more awesome (and relevant) content.

That’s it, friends. Four simple actions you can take today to build a community that’s loyal and engaged -- all from people who’ve been hiding in plain site.

Want more? We cover these tricks + much more in the Building Your Online Community e-course! Click the image below.

Building Your Online Community

7 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Next Business Conference

7 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Next Business Conference

7 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Next Business Conference

As you probably know by now, we are huge fans of putting time and effort into building your online community (we built a whole course about it). It’s the key to success as an online business owner, and it’s one way to make this world a whole lot smaller.

Yet investing in that online community doesn’t have to mean giving up all in-person interaction, even if it requires putting real pants on. (Which we highly advise.)

Attending in-person conferences can introduce you to a plethora of new people, even giving you face time with some of your online biz crushes. It can be the catalyst for visiting a new place. It can be the interaction you need to reinvigorate your business so that when you do go back to your yoga pants in bed (not judging!), you’re ready to jam.

Buying the ticket is the first step. Showing up is the second. In between, during, and after, there are several other ways you can get all of the above (and more) from your next business conference:

1. Study up on the agenda

You want to know what you’re getting yourself into. If the conference includes several speakers/panels at one time, build an action plan for which sessions you’re going to attend. Include backups if one doesn’t pan out -- and don’t be afraid to leave if it isn’t. Once you’ve determined what you’ll be attending and the topics you’ll be hearing about, start taking notes. What’s the speaker known for? What questions do you have about the topic? Finally, if you're a person who needs alone time to remain sane (like us), be sure to schedule some in where you can, so that you're not pulled from session to session with no downtime.

Going in prepared is one way to be able to fully enjoy the moment.

2. Connect on social media beforehand

Once you have your plan of what you’ll be attending, start connecting with the speakers and conference organizers online. Twitter is a great place to start a conversation, and it’s also a great way to get on the radar of speakers whom you might like to actually meet while at the conference.

Likewise, connect with other conference attendees before arrival. It’s uncommon these days for a big event to not have a dedicated hashtag that you can use to connect with other conference-goers before, during, and after the conference -- don’t wait to start.

Tip: Use the hashtag as you’re posting about the conference across platforms -- it’s a great way to collect your own notes when you want to recap it later.

3. Find smaller, breakout events

If you’re attending a huge event, like the World Domination Summit, it’s easy to feel lost in the crowd. Keep an eye out for smaller breakout events throughout the conference -- for example, Kit Whelan hosted several events specifically for female digital nomads during the 2015 WDS -- a perfect way to make relevant connections in a more comfortable, less intimidating setting.

Tip: If you can’t find a breakout event, don’t be afraid to start your own -- others will be glad you did. Find a local restaurant and set up a breakfast before daily sessions start, or choose a coffee shop and set up a meet up during a break. You can make it a simple meet-and-greet, or give it a topic.

4. Set up systems for while you’re away

Despite being at the conference to work on some aspect of your business, half of being able to enjoy the event is being able to completely unplug from the day-to-day. Chances are high that you’ll have a jam-packed schedule during the conference and will want to use most of your free time to catch up on sleep or connect with people you’ve met, not slough through emails or worry about deadlines.

This is all about being proactive. Before you leave, do the following:

  • Work ahead: It might only be a two-day long conference, but with travel time and recovery, you might be “out of commission” for a full week or more. Get ahead on projects or monthly retainers, where possible.
  • Schedule out: If you’re a content producer who blogs, podcasts, vlogs, or posts regularly to certain social channels, prepare content for the days you’re going to be away. (But leave room in case that perfect Insta photo pops up while you’re at the conference.)
  • Set up an email auto-responder: Tell people you’re away, as well as what they can expect upon your return. (Bonus points for including a few good reads from your blog, or another resource, in the meantime.)
  • Hire out-of-office help: You might not work with a VA on a regular basis, but maybe this is the time to enlist some help. OWS member Julienne offers specific vacation coverage packages so that you can leave, stress-free, knowing that your shop/email/social channels will continue running without you.

(Fun fact: Setting up systems like this is something we riff on waaaay more in The Solopreneur Sanity Handbook.)

Identify the things stressing you out most about leaving, and set up systems based on those priorities. Having them off your mind will allow you to fully enjoy each moment you’re away -- even if that’s an extra few winks of sleep.

5. Prepare all the right supplies

Packing can be our least favorite part of any travel, but coming prepared to the conference with all the right supplies that allow you to be your best self can be key to having the most rewarding experience.

When it comes to taking notes, for example, some conferences will provide you notebooks, folders, or print-outs that you can mark up to your heart’s content. But, a.) that’s not guaranteed, and b.) maybe that’s not quite how you want to preserve your notes. (#TypeA person speaking.)

Know ahead of time how you want to take notes so you can bring a fresh notebook and juiced up pen, come prepared with your laptop + charger, or make sure you have enough storage in Evernote. There’s nothing worse than a session starting and having to scramble for a pen or haphazardly jotting notes in a random place that you won’t be able to find later. (Stationery lovers: This is your chance to buy that new notebook, guilt-free.)

On the personal side, bring anything else you might need for a comfortable experience -- could be anything from an eye mask/ear plugs if you're sharing a room, to snack bars and a water bottle that help you avoid the inevitable hangriness. (Speaking from experience, here.)

Proactively prepare now. You’ll be happy you did, later.

6. Bring business cards -- and collect others’

You will meet at least a handful of new people. Other people will also be meeting a handful of new people. Don’t rely on your brain -- or others’ -- to remember every single person you spoke to. Come prepared with business cards (we heart Moo*) that you can offer the people you meet, and don’t be afraid to ask for theirs. Make use of them by adding notes to them, if possible, about what you talked about, or ideas for follow up.

Even if you interact online 95% of the time, the days of business cards are not over, and in-person events are the perfect setting to show yours off.

7. Schedule time after

It can be all too easy to fall back into a normal pattern the day you get back from a conference -- immediately rejoining the rat race to process emails, dive back into work, and get as much done as possible, vowing to revisit your notes from the conference “later.”

Don’t let that happen to you. One fun trick we love to use is this: Tell people you’re arriving back at least one day after you really are. That way, you can leave that autoresponder up and enjoy a bit of solitude as you process the days you just spent investing in your business. During that time, build an action plan for how you’ll follow up with people and how you’ll make moves on the ideas you had while away -- and then get started.

What will your next business conference be?

There’s nothing quite like taking time to step out of your day-to-day and really invest in your business -- but when you do, it’s important that you be present and make the most of it. Taking the steps above can help you enjoy more meaningful conversations, insightful sessions, and a reinvigorated drive to run your business.

P.S. Looking for a relevant conference to attend? Check out the One Woman Shop calendar!

*Note: We may receive a commission when you make a purchase via one or more links in this article. As always, we only promote products we love, and think you will, too!

How to Develop a Better Network Online: A Primer

It’s all about the relationships. At least, that’s what I’ve always been told. Successfully growing a business depends on developing leads and nurturing connections with other people. You can’t do it alone, even if you’re a One Woman Shop.

Believe me. I know. I’ve been working on my solo business for quite some time now and I’m the first to say that a strong network makes all the difference between getting ahead or falling woefully behind.

With the advent of social media tools, it’s become so much easier not only to connect with existing contacts but to create an entirely new network of people to help you grow your business online.

If you haven’t been taking advantage of social media in this way, it’s time you started. Here are a few ideas to get you well on your way.

Leverage LinkedIn

If you’re not active in some way on LinkedIn, you’re missing out. It’s the go to place for professionals across a multitude of industries to connect. LinkedIn provides an opportunity to continue the conversation with someone you’ve met in person or online in a professional context.

Take these things into consideration to get the most out of using LinkedIn to develop your network:

    • Always write a custom note when asking someone to accept your connection request, especially if you don’t know them personally. Using the default message is akin to not having a professional looking photo for your profile. It says, “I’m not putting any thought into this.”
    • Share value added content with your connections and within groups that you’ve joined. Join in on the conversations and be willing to answer questions whenever possible. This shows you’re willing to be engaged and displays your expertise within your niche.
    • Give praise and acknowledge accomplishments. Check the news feed and key into what your connections are doing.

Join a few Facebook groups

Facebook has seen an explosion of groups over the past couple of years. Groups within Facebook fall within two camps: open and closed. Open groups are ones that anyone can join while closed groups require acceptance by the group’s administrator.

Depending on your interests and/or profession, you can do a search on Facebook and see if there are any that strike a chord with you. Getting recommendations from others is the best way. For instance, I belong to a women’s entrepreneur group called Thrive Hive that serves as a kind of giant mastermind and support network. It’s been a phenomenal place to bounce ideas off of others and develop leads for my business. While this one is closed and has a fee to belong, there are plenty that do not.

Get beyond the phone call

Skype and Google Hangouts are tools that should be in every small business owner’s arsenal. Even if you’re not looking to connect with people outside of your immediate area, you never know when meeting virtually may seem like the best option.

Both are free. Google Hangouts allow you to have multiple people join the conversation and be seen on the screen at one time.

Think of using either one of these tools to connect with clients, potential clients or people in your industry in a more personal way.

    • Invite some of your clients to a Google Hangout where they can get some of their burning questions answered about their businesses.
    • Better connect with someone in your industry via Skype who you’d like to develop a strategic partnership with.
    • Offer a 15 minute Skype chat to discuss your services with an interested potential client.

Don’t forget email

Last but not least, don’t forget about email. Contrary to popular belief, email is not dead. Within 24 hours of making a meaningful connection at a networking or professional event, I send that person an email. I reference where we met, what we talked about and the fact that I would like to include him or her in my network.

From there, I connect on LinkedIn where I hope to stay on that person’s radar.

Which brings me back to the need for reaching out across multiple platforms to keep your connections alive; not everyone is comfortable or interested in being active with all the virtual social tools. Find ones that work for you and those people you most want to cultivate working relationships with online.

The more you do, the more you’ll find how much value you can get out of them.

How To: Get Introduced on LinkedIn

As freelancers and solopreneurs, we love to use LinkedIn to build and maintain our professional network, but we understand why many people don't see a ton of value in it- especially if they're only popping up a profile and then stepping away. In our opinion, LinkedIn's Get Introduced feature is one of the most underutilized functionalities of the site.

Wondering how it works? Here’s a step-by-step tutorial on how to make use of the Get Introduced feature:

  1. On LinkedIn, search for the person that you would like to be introduced to- maybe it's a potential client, partner, or contractor
  2. LinkedIn will tell you how many shared connections you have; click this green link to see who you are both connected to and make sure that you feel comfortable reaching out to one of themget introduced on linkedin
  3. Click the down arrow to the right of the Connect button, then select Get Introduced
    get introduced on linkedin
  4. Choose the person you (Person A) would like to have introduce you (Person B) to your target (Person C) when LinkedIn asks "Who should make the introduction?"
  5. Write a clear, concise message explaining why you would like to be connected to Person C and why you think Person B is the best person for the job
  6. Voila- you'll soon have a direct connection to Person C- and you've unofficially been given the seal of approval by Person B!

Wondering what to say in your request for an introduction? Here's what we might say:

Hi so and so,

Hope you've been doing well! I saw that you are connected to so and so and I was wondering if you would mind introducing us here on LinkedIn or via email. I've been following his/her work in xyz and would love a chance to connect with him/her directly!

Thanks so much,

Your name

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