A lot of people are drawn to self-employment because of the freedom it gives them – not just professionally, but in the way they organize their lives and living. Yet with complete freedom – with no set 9-to-5 commitments and with weekends equivalent to weekdays in their potential for productivity – comes a structural void.
As your income rests exclusively on your shoulders, it is easy to remain in “business mode” for long hours, prioritizing work above all else in your life. By the time you’ve established a steady income, you’ve also established the habits of working hard and compromising your leisure time, which will prove hard to shift. How do you go about making new friends as an entrepreneur? Why would you need to be concerned with expanding your social circles?
As an entrepreneur you will need to depend quite heavily on your social skills at times. If you wish to court new clients it will be your personality that makes or breaks deals; building up customer loyalty requires excellent communication and confidence. These qualities cannot be taught in any formal sense: they have to be acquired through being around people and interacting with them. Your small circle of college friends will have known you for years and will forgive your most unsavory habits; clients meeting you for the first time won’t be as generous.
Of course, the immediate question therefore becomes: how do you go about making new friends outside of your business connections? Not through professional networking – nice try, but those count as business connections. It is difficult to build up a social circle in the most optimal circumstances, creating a new one from scratch in a limited (visible) pool is a daunting task. Luckily, there are a few good approaches to try.
The best way to find people who share your interests is to participate in a networking site such as Meetup. The website hosts shared interest groups – nearly all are confined to the one particular city or area – who post details of their meetings so that anyone is free to attend. From hiking to cinema trips, from French-speakers to other young professionals in your region, there will be a nearby Meetup group for you.
The street where you live and your apartment block are crammed full of potential friends; exploit that opportunity. Take time to chat to the people you encounter every day whilst walking the dog or in the line at your local coffee shop. Organize or attend a block barbeque, or take part in a community clean-up. As these people are your neighbors, if you become friends, you will have the extra advantage of being in close proximity to the new friends, making it easy to socialize.
Professional and Personal Development
If you’re still finding it difficult to socialize and meet new people, perhaps you should take a step back and look at ways to improve your social skills? Finding a new activity such as Toastmasters, amateur acting or martial arts could help develop self-confidence and make you more comfortable talking to new people. Plus, you are likely to make new friends amongst the other attendees in the process. You are also likely to find your new friends and acquaintances can provide a lot of helpful work-related advice – everything from the best desktop computer to the best productivity apps to the best internet provider – which can prove to be invaluable.
Adopting the 24/7 lifestyle of the entrepreneur it may seem as if social activities should take a backburner while you focus on expanding your business. In fact, the two are both key components of success and addressed with sufficient quantities of your time and energy.