The Loneliness of the Own-Working Sole Trader
Updated: Jan 11
Are you self-employed in some capacity? Working alone? Tired of your own company?
Join the club.
The networking club that is. We all need to if we know what's good for us. None of us is a self-employed island. Of course, it's possible to go it alone, but life's that much harder when you're isolated.
There are droves of us out here own-working in the parallel universe of self-employment, fumbling around by ourselves, needy and nerdy and desperate for a coffee and chat with someone who understands the ups and downs of the life.
Our employed friends just don't get the panic or the (rare) euphoria, the drive, the penury or the hours. Families just want us to get 'a proper job' and go back to the world of employment so they don't have to worry about us any more, the government want us to go away and the tax people just want everything.
If we're lucky we might have an informal support group of like-minded friends and familiar colleagues to call on when things are dire or going well where we can share the moment.
But a just-met business person can challenge us, call forth a different perspective on an old problem or offer insight into a growth issue or new idea, and that's why structured networking can be useful.
Where else could you pin down a stranger and ask their honest opinion on that new thingummy you've been mulling over for the last six months (without being quietly escorted away).
You might even meet someone who'll tell you what you don't want to hear but need to know, without charging a consultant's rate for it. And you might give someone else something to think about while you're at it. Respectfully of course, and kindly if you can.
So what about it? Don't be jaded. If networks haven't worked for you so far, perhaps it's because you haven't been clear about what you want from them. Is it:
tea and sympathy?
an opportunity to pitch?
Look around and choose your network carefully, because they all offer something different. Know what you want when you go along and be prepared to help out others.
And if you don't like it, go somewhere else. Find another set up. Just don't give up. If you're working for yourself you'll be used to that - not giving up. You'll be tough; used to the knock-backs, used to finding a way and trying, trying and trying again. Whether you realise it or not you're already one of us, a member of the great self-employed club.See you at the next network.
Jane Anderson PhD specialises in Sociospacial Reciprocity and Place Therapy. She's a wellbeing veteran having been working in the field for nigh on 30 years. She is especially interested in the people-place relationship and how it underpins all other aspects of staff engagement and wellbeing. Her Staff Wellbeing Framework Model is now charter-marked for quality assurance.
www.jcaconsult.co.uk / 07742942651