I work for myself and I love the freedom this gives me. I love making all of the decisions, I love doing the preparation in my own time and in my own way, I love delivering the topics I choose, I even like, a bit, creating invoices and tracking my accounts. Working for myself is one of the best career decisions I’ve ever made and mostly, the independence and solitary working day really suits me. However, spending a lot of time in my own head can be exhausting and, if I’m honest, lonely sometimes.
I’d looked at local networking events and was put off, not least because they always seem so formal and impersonal (they all seem to charge loads too). Plus, I didn’t know anyone so I’d have to go alone….and then what?!?! Me in my Docs and jeans telling people wearing suits what I do and hoping one other person in the room might do something similar or just work in the same field. It didn’t feel right for me and as I’m the boss, I made the decision to not ‘network’.
I did still feel the need to collaborate, though I had no idea of how to get started, and for some reason, I did not expect it to happen when I went along to the Nursery World Show in London earlier this year. The best I had hoped for was a few free pens and perhaps another large equipment supplier to offer a few free resources in exchange for a blog post (this has previously happened!!)
I think this might be why it went so well. I was relaxed, confident and had no expectations, so when I spoke with biz owners, that came across.
I came away with a stack of business cards and several have led to collaborations, in a variety of ways. I’m not going to give anything away about these yet, that’ll come later.
The thing about working with others (rather than for them), is that you get broader perspectives on your ideas, and on your goals. You get to share the load, try out ideas, and reflect together. You get a critical friend, someone who can push and challenge you and someone who can inspire you.
In every job I’ve had, I’ve sought out the person (or when I’m lucky, people) who I respected to be that collaborator. I’ve been choosey, and rightly so, it’s paid off, as many are still friends (not just on social media).
So, who are you collaborating with? Who can you share your crazy ideas with? Who’ll give you an honest response? Who will join you in turning that madcap idea into reality? Who will cheerlead from the side? Who do you do those things for?
It’s not just about being mates, it’s much more than that but it has to start with respect. Mutual respect, for each other as people and as professionals.
I’m going to add that I’ve found some of these things online too, amongst 2 or 3 incredibly supportive biz groups in Facebook, but they took a while to find and a while to feel the benefit, as with all relationships, you have to build trust and rapport. So, don’t be disheartened if you haven’t found your collaborator yet….they’re there, waiting to be found!
Also, I’ve been to a networking event….more on that another time 😉