Feeling isolated and alone can be one of the greatest challenges of working from home. There's no companionship at the water cooler, and most of the time the radio and the TV will be your only company. It’s no secret that the quiet can get to you.
But stress no more. There are many ways for the enterprising home business owner to stave off loneliness and stay connected to the outside world. Here are 10 tips for breaking the silence:
- Make time for face time. If you need to meet with clients or suppliers, don’t always reach for the phone. Schedule face-to-face meetings with clients and other business owners, or friends and family members outside your home office.
- Get out and circulate. Attend trade shows, business conferences, chamber of commerce events, and book signings. Not only do they provide great networking opportunities, but these events can also increase your visibility in the business community and create awareness of your product and service. You’ll also learn about trends in your industry, meet other businesspeople, and maybe even form a circle of new friends and kindred spirits.
- Go back to school. Enroll in business courses or seminars that can sharpen your skills and give you the chance to meet new people.
- Volunteer. By getting involved in community service and neighborhood activities, you’ll not only get out of the house, but you’ll also feel good. There might also be other unforeseen results; people who sit on boards of directors or do good things in their communities tend to be business movers and shakers as well. Volunteering can be good exposure for you and your business. In fact, it can serve as a great low-cost marketing tool that helps you foster relationships with others in your field.
- Seek out other home-based businesspeople. Join a home-based business organization. You can develop relationships with other home-based entrepreneurs, share ideas and concerns, partner on projects, and gain access to discounts on products such as office supplies and equipment. Most groups have regular meetings and a built-in referral network.
- Be a self-starter. If you can’t find a group you like, start your own.
- Stay active. To combat isolation, stay involved in networking groups, which don’t always have to be business-related. When you are out in the community, whether it is joining a running group or a book club, you’re meeting new people and finding ways to stave off the isolation.
- Don't forget your old friends. Running a home-based business can be a great opportunity to jump-start friendships and develop a close personal support network. It’s especially important when you are working at home, where there aren't many opportunities to interact with colleagues, for you to honor existing friendships and go out of your way to plan get-togethers and activities.
- Create personal space. An always-on computer can be a huge distraction. You may be tempted to work during time you have set aside to spend with family or friends. It's up to you to create quiet time and prevent work from overtaking your life. Once the workday is done, turn off the computer.
- Just get out. Schedule time everyday just to get out of the house, whether it is just to run errands or have a cup of coffee. You’d be surprised at the relationships that can develop just by going to the gym or the coffee shop. Use the time you used to spend commuting by nurturing these business and personal relationships.
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