“If your current friends don’t support your goals or resent your success, it’s time to make friends with people who are actually doing amazing things with their lives.” – paraphrased from Fabienne Fredrickson
One of the most difficult things about entrepreneurship is how lonely it can be. While I enjoy the freedom I have in working for myself, I have found it much harder to build my network as a self-employed professional than it was when I worked full-time at a nonprofit. I love my business, but I’ve also learned how important it is to put myself out there to connect with other motivated entrepreneurial women who are on a similar path. I know from experience that when you have a list of people you can call when you need help or just want to vent, it makes life a whole lot easier. Life is even more fulfilling when you have like-minded women around you that you can share victories with, whether it’s quitting your job, landing a new client or publishing your next book.
If you’ve been struggling to expand your social circle, consider these ideas on how to connect with like-minded women and grow your support network.
1. Attend local networking events.
Last week, I attended Client Attraction Founder Fabienne Fredrickson’s Mindset Tour stop in Reston, Virginia. I learned a lot from Fabienne’s ideas around changing your mindset so that you can earn more money in your business. I also met several inspiring, heart-centered entrepreneurs that are doing their part to help others with their products and services. Local networking events hosted by a business or organization are a great way for you to connect to (and follow up with) women in your area who have the same career or business interests as you do. Best of all, most of them are free or low-cost! Check online forums, blogs, your local newspaper or your city’s weekly community calendar for upcoming networking events.
2. Go to retreats and seminars.
I wrote about the incredible opportunity I had in attending the Project Getaway business retreat in Thailand earlier this year. It was a powerful experience for me to live in community with other location-independent entrepreneurs for almost a month. Of course, it didn’t hurt that we were in a tropical paradise! Retreats are typically hosted by organizations, authors, speakers, coaches or mentors over the course of a weekend/week/month in various locations around the world. The great thing about retreats is that you can combine them with a vacation or simply take a weekend away from home to get motivated and recharged to achieve your goals. With the Happy Black Woman Retreat this September in DC (2 spots left!), my goal is to cultivate a space for women to support each other on the journey to create our ideal lives and build businesses doing what we love. If you go to your favorite guru’s website, they will likely have an “events” page where you can find out how to register for their next retreat or seminar.
3. Find a Meetup group related to a hobby or interest you have.
I love Meetup groups and recommend them often. All you do is enter your location and choose a category on the Meetup website to find groups of people with certain interests or hobbies in your area. Even with me traveling and being a nomad these past few years, I’ve always been able to find a Meetup group in my city where I can connect with like-minded people. Although you’ve probably heard this suggestion before, you might think, “I’m just not a ‘go meet a bunch of strangers’ type of person.” Or maybe you’re even an extreme introvert like me. But if you’re looking to expand your social circle, why not plug in to a community that’s already been created for you? Consider that you’ll also expand your skills and experiences by learning from others in the group.
4. Join a book club.
If you love to read and want to meet other readers in your area, you can also find a wide range of book clubs on Meetup.com. Independent bookstores and chains like Barnes & Noble host weekly or monthly book discussion groups as well. If you wish, you can exchange contact information with others in the club to continue the conversation over coffee or dinner. The point is that you expand your social circle with women who enjoy taking part in the same activity that you like to do. You already know you’ll have something in common with the participants, especially if the club is focused on reading certain types of books.
5. Host an informal get-together at your home.
Have you noticed that your phone and face-to-face time with friends has decreased since the convenience of email, Facebook, Twitter, etc? I know I’m guilty of this myself. I definitely have to make the extra effort to schedule lunch, drinks or even just a Skype session with all of the amazing women I know. This past weekend, I took it a step further and invited a small group of entrepreneurial HBW over for brunch at my place. And wine. Lots of wine! Hosting an informal get-together at your home is a fantastic way to expand your social circle because you get to interact more deeply with a select group of women than you would at a crowded happy hour or noisy restaurant. Just go through your email contacts, list of Facebook friends or stack of business cards and I’m sure you’ll discover at least three interesting women you’d like to get to know a bit better.
For me, the commitment to reach out to others is the key to deepening my relationships with incredible women in my social circle. Even with my ongoing travel schedule and nomadic lifestyle, I know that I can always find people who can support me in the journey to not only grow my business, but to grow myself into the person I want to be.
Leave a comment below: Do you need to expand your social circle to include people who can support your goals? Share ONE thing you can do this week to connect with liked-minded women.
Rosetta Thurman is the Founder of Happy Black Woman, a supportive community that empowers women to create their ideal lives through personal development and entrepreneurship. Join thousands of women who have completed the only online course that gives you all the tools you need to get unstuck, set clear goals and rediscover who you truly are. Learn more about the 31 Days to Reset Your Life program here.