When I left my job six years ago, I freed myself from a daily commute that could take several hours. Today, I’m a solopreneur with a lot more control over my schedule. I rarely wear suits and often sport t-shirts and sweat pants while typing away at my computer.
But there’s a flip side to this new entrepreneurial lifestyle. After decades spent working in a traditional office environment, I now work in a home office. It’s a great arrangement — but I do miss the brainstorming sessions, feedback and social interaction with co-workers who were just down the hall.
Maybe you can relate to this experience, which seems common among those who leave the corporate world and become sole proprietors or independent contractors later in life. Working solo on a project for days or weeks (or longer) can leave you feeling lonely and isolated. That’s why it’s important to stay connected with others who can offer ideas, a different perspective or maybe a laugh when you need one.
Thanks to the Internet, it’s much easier to “find your people” than it was just a few years ago. If you’re interested in joining a new community of business owners, professionals or other like-minded individuals, here are five places to look:
1) Associations – Just about every industry has one. The key is to attend meetings and participate as an active member. Join a committee or a task force where you can work closely with others and get to know them in a smaller-group setting.
2) LinkedIn groups – These provide a place for professionals with similar interests to share content, find answers and post/review jobs. Check out this directory to browse groups in alphabetical order.
3) Facebook community pages – One example: Your Next Chapter, which describes itself as “a place for women who are stepping into their Next Chapter in business and life to connect, share, support and grow.”
4) Groups for exploring second acts – The Transition Network, AARP, 40Plus and encore.org, among others, offer conferences and other ways for members to network.
5) Meetup – This online social networking portal facilitates offline group meetings in localities around the world. Enter your city and a topic to find nearby groups who share your interest.