Community or Loneliness?

This post is by Ruth Thirtle



One of the biggest issues that people can face when they start working for themselves is loneliness. Having the choice to not have to work with the people we don’t like or respect may seem like a positive reason to strike out on our own but the loneliness can still influence us. For me, the time that this hits home is Christmas. When I worked in corporate we had hundreds of people at our Christmas party or dozens out for a cruise on Sydney Harbour (just had to drop that in there!!). Taking myself out for Christmas lunch and telling cracker jokes to myself just does not have the same appeal.

What is it for you? When do you notice the (possibly much) smaller team that you are a part of?

–      Monday morning gossip? – not that any of us admit to enjoying that!!

–      Water cooler tattle to have a 5 minute break?

–      Lunch with a colleague?

–      Colleagues to arrive at networking events for increased confidence?

–      Financial year or Christmas parties?

Now I hope you’ve figured out by now, even from my few blog posts, that I am quite a positive person. This post is not meant to depress you or leave you yearning for corporate life just for the parties. What I want to talk to you about it the importance of building your network or community so that you can overcome this issue.

I was thrilled when a recommendation was posted on LinkedIn that in celebration of working with me for a short time, Tricia was dancing around her kitchen with the dog looking on in amazement. My dog is great company and there is always a great excuse for not actually talking to myself! However, there are times that I do like human interaction, and not just with my clients.

It has been very important for me to build a community and I wanted to share a few ways I have done that so that you will maybe pick up an idea or two that might work for you.

Networking. The main reason that I train people on effective networking is that it is the best way of building the “in person” community – and, in my humble opinion, the most fun way to build your business. Time at a networking meeting is time spent working on your business – finding suppliers, potential clients, joint venture partners and friends. Time spent networking is time giving you people to bounce ideas off of, vent your spleen at from time to time as well as people to do business with.

Social Media. As a continuation of networking, networking online works well. As I have clients and a network in Australia and the UK I can’t always network face to face with people I want to chat to – so I “join the conversation” as Twitter invites. Learn from the professionals how to use social media to your best advantage – why not check out I would advise using a timer to make sure you don’t get sucked into Facebook or Twitter as it can happen – but do allow yourself the breaks to chat that you would give yourself working in a corporate!

Membership sites. Dependant on your specific area of interest, many membership organisations have a forum or use calls or webinars to allow members to interact with one another. You get to learn from peers and share ideas with like-minded individuals – and you may get other benefits too.

One of the sites that I am a member of is run by Janet Beckers and she is great at gathering a community or “tribe” around her. One of the perks of being part of Janet’s community is that I am able to share this gift with you I am a contributing author in a book on Vision and Motivation to celebrate 100 years of International Women’s Day. Have a look and let me know if you would like a hard copy when it is published. Have a look, have a read and you will see the kind of people I get to share ideas with through the community.

I would also advise building your friendships away from your business. Join a sports team or a club. Do something sociable that you enjoy – do not let your business take over your whole life and isolate you.

I hope you enjoy your gift and I hope that this gives you some ideas.

It would be great if you could leave comments with other suggestions on ways to fight the potential for loneliness.


Written by Ruth Thirtle

One Response to “Community or Loneliness?”

  • Starting out in business this was one of my main concerns. I was lucky in that just as I started out a couple of other VAs were starting out and we connected via various platforms, mainly twitter and started supporting each other that way. We moved from twitter onto Skype and started a group on there.

    In 2 years we’ve grown from 3 to 95 strong and the chats run daily. We now have a business chatroom and a “water cooler” for non business stuff. We talk about day to day stuff, work and familiy lives and it’s fab way to may friends, gain professional support and you know that you aren’t alone.

    We promote collaboration not competition in our industry and whilst we may chase the same customers, it is undoubtedly a fabulous way to work and be part of a dynamic “organisation”.

    We would definitely encourage people to form strategic groups like this, it works well and professional relationships are strengthened, it’s also a fabulous platform for joint ventures, general brainstorming and idea generation.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.