You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.
– Jim Rohn
Subconsciously, we are greatly affected and influenced by the people we spend the most time interacting with (they don’t have to live next door or even within 100 miles).
But as freelancers and creatives, most of us have severely narrowed our social interaction.
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We don’t stand around the water cooler swapping weekend stories. We don’t leave the house as much. Heck, sometimes we don’t even get out of our pajamas!
While we creatives have achieved something that many people in the corporate world can only dream about, we face some social challenges.
When you don’t connect with peers or friends during the workday, you may feel isolated, and this loneliness will have a negative impact on the quality of your work.
And so it was for me.
When I first started to build my side business, I was completely alone.
I didn’t know anyone who had started (or even wanted to start) a business or a freelance career.
My friends and family didn’t understand my motivation or interest and struggled to be supportive.
I was desperate for like-minded people.
But I’m an introvert, and going to local meetups just wasn’t working. And even if I had found someone local, it’s often hard to actually meet face-to-face on a regular basis.
Life just gets in the way.
So I did the next best thing and started searching for an online support team–or a mastermind group.
But I had no idea how to find a mastermind group…
Fast-forward to today:
I have not one but two accountability partners, a great online community of peers and friends, a thriving freelance business, and most importantly, a positive attitude.
Working from home does not mean that you have to be alone.
So how did an introvert like me figure out how to find a mastermind group?
My 4-step process for creating an online support team:
The internet is a big place with a lot of outstanding people. Find them, connect with them, and build your own online team. Don’t forget to also ask people that are already in your entourage if they would be willing to build a mastermind group that would help both of you.
Also, realize that you won’t find the perfect working partner on the first try. It took me three attempts before I realized how to build a mastermind group that really made a difference for me.
It wasn’t that those first masterminds / partners weren’t good ones. They simply weren’t the right ones for me and my personality, and weren’t aligned with my goals.
Here are my steps to success:
1. Find an online community.
There are a lot of communities on the internet, so finding the right one can be a difficult task.
(PS: Maybe you’d like to join Millo’s own free mastermind group on facebook with hundreds of talented creative entrepreneurs inside.)
So how do you find the right one?
- Look at the blogs you’re reading. If you like the bloggers, the blog posts, and a few of the commenters, there’s a good chance you’ll like the community.
- Find people who right now are where you want to be. Whether that’s making more money, having 10+ employees, doing what you love, or something else entirely, get in with a group who knows how to do what you want to do.
- Join a self-improvement community. Are you struggling with organization, patience, productivity, stress? There’s a good chance you’ll find a community you “fit” in amongst people who share the same desire to improve themselves.
- Join a professional group. Whether it’s AIGA, LinkedIn Groups, NAPW, etc., meet others who are doing what you’re doing.
- Ask your friends and other freelancers. Are they part of a community that’s helping them?
How you know you’ve found a good fit:
- You’ll feel challenged yet comfortable.
- You’ll have something to offer other group members, and vice versa. (It’s a win-win for everyone.)
- You’ll be excited about participating and getting more involved, even after the initial excitement period wears off.
Alone, I probably would have given up. But having like-minded people around me gave me the perspective and energy I needed keep going and stay focused.
2. Ask for help.
Don’t try to figure out everything alone. Solve the easier problems solo with internet research, but then ask for help on the trickier obstacles. Not only will you be able to get the help you need, but you’ll also connect with other people.
And if something someone suggests works, let them know that you took action and solved your problem thanks to them.
A simple, “I just wanted to thank you for <insert suggestion>. Here’s how I implemented it, and this is how well it worked out for me…” goes a long way toward building relationships.
3. Bring value to others.
Bring value to the community. Help others, especially if they were the ones that helped you.
Follow that “thank you” up with questions about their business. Ask things like:
- How is your business doing?
- What obstacles are you facing?
- What are your business goals for the year?
Over time, you’ll connect with more and more people.
By being genuinely interested in others’ work, getting help and trying to help others, I connected with dozens of people in my communities.
4. Seek out an accountability partner or mastermind group.
There are many benefits to having an accountability partner, but the most important to me is that you don’t give up.
If you’re working on a tough project, like launching your creative business, you will face many challenges. If you’re alone to face them, it’s very easy to quit during tough times.
But if you have someone you can share your struggle with, someone who is supporting you and pushing you to overcome these challenges, someone like a partner or a mastermind group, you won’t give up. If you don’t give up and work consistently, you will inevitably succeed. It’s only a matter of time.
Many times, following steps #2 & #3 lead to accountability partnerships or mastermind groups that usually happen like this (it did for me):
- Ask for advice, because you need it.
- Applying the (good) advice you receive. Show that you’re reliable and ready to take action.
- Close the loop by letting them know about your progress, and asked about their business (because you are genuinely interested).
- Ask to meet regularly via Skype (or something similar).
- Ask if they’d like to find more members and form a mastermind group.
If that doesn’t work, Google “accountability relationships” or “accountability partners”. There are whole communities of people specifically looking for these types of relationships.
It may be a bit weird the first time you meet: you might struggle for what to say. But don’t give up!
One of my accountability partners and I now meet every week and set up 3 goals for the following one. Then we discuss the challenges we’re trying to overcome, celebrate the wins, and keep each other accountable for our previous week’s goals.
Tired of Working Alone? Maybe you need a partner or a mastermind.
Despite being an introvert, I slowly built a strong online supportive team around me that has had (and still has) a major impact on the success of my business.
And you can, too!
You’re not alone, and you just might find another piece of your online community here.
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