A lot of creative entrepreneurs work at home while the rest of the world is rocking the 9-5 corporate life. Because of this, work can get kind of lonely. Not only that, but there’s never anyone to bounce ideas off of, meaning you’re left to figure things out for yourself! Really, having online friends who are also creative entrepreneurs is an absolute necessity. And if you listen to these four rules, they won’t be hard to find either:
JOIN FACEBOOK GROUPS
There are tons of groups on Facebook for creative entrepreneurs. Some are general while others are specific industries. Join as many as you can follow! You can post discounts for your services and products, ask and answer questions, and post helpful links. It's important to remember that Facebook groups are not about spamming your content to everyone. Respond with meaningful answers to questions, give your feedback to those asking advice, and truly set out to help others. A lot of times, these niceties become friend requests which become emails back and forth, and before you know it, you’ve got a network of people just like you.
OFFER YOUR SUPPORT
To network with fellow entrepreneurs, you need to be helpful. If you take, take, take without giving in return, you run the risk of becoming an entrepreneurial vampire. Try to give back generously to those who give to you by offering your support, skills, knowledge etc. Even better- practice giving before receiving!
If someone is looking for advice on how to do something you’re a pro at, send that obnoxiously detailed email. If they need a reference, send them your favorite businesses to work with. If you know someone in your industry and you’re overbooked, pass potential clients their way. Guaranteed, the good karma will be returned.
JUST NOT TOO MUCH!
Sometimes, people get very into other people’s work. So much so that it might feel like the entrepreneur brought on a partner or employee. It’s awesome to get excited about the cool stuff people around you are doing, but remember that in the end, it's their project. You can help others generously, but don't let helping become an enormous burden on yourself. I've been in that situation before and have given more of my own time than was practical. In the end, it can cause frustration because you have nothing to show for it. Strive for an even balance between helping others and looking out for yourself.
TAKE IT OFFLINE
This doesn’t mean you have to hop on the next flight out to your new friend’s house—that would be a little creepy. However, an encouraging note via snail mail can go a long way. During a time where a tweet suffices as effective communication, actually taking the time to pass along something tangible, outside the digital scene, will make people feel so valued.
In the end, making friends and networking online is just like the real world offline. The main takeaway is to genuinely invest in people—not just build up a list of pretty contacts. Follow the 'give, give, get' principle and you'll be on your way to befriending and networking with the best of 'em!