There are three stages of working from home:
“Wow, that’s so cool. I’m so independent”
“Hmm, what was the last time I talked to my people? I need to go somewhere…”
“I really hope pigeons will come to my balcony today…”
It would be funny (maybe it is a bit) if it weren’t so true.
Working from home presents many challenges, and hoping to talk to someone (or wait until pigeons come to your window) is just one of them. While office workers meet and mingle with colleagues daily, freelancers might find their social circles shrink and may even need help to improve communication skills that have petered away over time.
All is not lost though! Here are some tips and tricks to make your social life more active (or even more normal?).
Harness Social Media
The freelance grind gets lonely, that’s a fact. But there are millions of other people out there who are in exactly the same position as you. The quickest way to connect with other freelancers is to turn to social media and get proactive about engaging with like-minded individuals.
Whether you join Facebook groups of people who share interests with you, use hashtags on Twitter to solicit social interactions from other users or head to LinkedIn to share your expertise and experiences with a view to engaging with people in the freelance world, there are lots of ways that social media can be a boon for home workers.
Share Working Space
Go against the traditional freelancer mindset, and revel in the glory of the shared working space. More and more freelancers are deciding to leave their comfy home environments and instead head to a shared workspace in their local area.
There are a lot of advantages to this, and expanding your social circle is just one. Shared workspaces are hives for creativity, productivity and also fun. You can chat with other freelancers, forge social connections and even network for the purposes of pushing your career to the next level.
Freelancers across a number of industries can get away from home and ensure that their social circle grows by visiting events, conferences, and gatherings associated with their professional roles.
Business events generate over a trillion dollars in spending each year, so you should have no shortage of options available to you. It is also important to remember that you do not just need to hold out for the largest annual get-togethers; look out for smaller-scale talks, meet-ups and seminars that will provide you with an opportunity to mingle with others.
Another excellent way to encounter fresh faces is to take a course, class or session in person. This can be related to your work, or could simply be something that is more of a hobby that you want to take a little more seriously.
As a freelancer, you may have a more flexible schedule to accommodate courses, which is something to bear in mind when you are looking for things that interest you.
If that sounds a bit boring for you (going back to school? Are you kidding me?), then the perfect alternative is sports. Sign up for group classes over individual training and make it your habit. You’ll see that it will improve your mind and body, as well as your communication skills.
Say Your Name
This may sound obvious, but there is a lot to be said for remembering to actively introduce yourself to people in a social context, rather than being passive and hoping that someone will get you involved in a conversation at some point.
This can be one of the scariest things for a freelancer to consider, so it is important to not over-think it. Instead, be bold and confident. Tell people who you are, ask them about themselves and build a rapport. If you are not feeling confident, the old adage of ‘fake it until you make it’ will really help you out.
Keep In Touch
Even if your initial efforts to expand your social circle as a freelancer are successful, you cannot simply kick back and relax at this point. Like a houseplant, you need to tend to your social connections over time to ensure they blossom into something brilliant, rather than leaving them to shrivel and die through a lack of attention.
Keeping in touch with the people you meet and get on with is not only reliant on reaffirming connections through real-life meet-ups though. Often it is enough to touch base with someone via email, instant message, text or a good old-fashioned phone conversation. Of course, the flipside of this is that you need to avoid bombarding your contacts with an overwhelming stream of communication through all available platforms, so strike the right balance with Spike.
With Spike’s collaboration-boosting Groups, chat-like conversational email, and features like Send Later (so you can schedule birthday emails in advance), Spike is a sure-fire way to always stay connected without being intrusive.
Ultimately it is best to develop your own strategies for expanding your social circle as a freelancer who works from home. Go to parties, meetings, participate in marathons (okay, that might be too much for some) and find what not only works for you but what feels good for you.
You’ve created a 21st-century lifestyle for yourself and ditched the corporate life, so download Spike today and have your communications and collaboration reflect your new age flex.