Imagine this: me, last week, not one, but two phone calls. One with an old friend, the other with a new one. The common thread: their curiosity about, can you believe it, my business. (That’s how you know you’re on the right track.)
Both wanted to know how I’d done it, why I’d done it, and my best tips for how to do it. The last question is crazy, because, in a little over two years of running my own business full-time, I have more than a few pieces of advice.
But the most important one? Investment in connection and collaboration.
Why Connection and Collaboration Matter for Small Business Owners
01 Connecting with other people helps mitigate the loneliness of solopreneurship
The operative word here is “solo”, and for many of us, entrepreneurship can be a lonely endeavor. But it doesn’t have to be. In a post-pandemic world where WFH and hybrid work is the norm, and at a time when entrepreneurship and freelancing are becoming more widely accepted, the way we connect with other professionals is changing.
Even if we’re not going into an office or chatting in a break room, connecting with others helps revitalize our professional lives and gives us a much-needed support system.
02 Connection helps us better ourselves
We aren’t meant to exist in vacuums. Having an influx of information from high-quality sources (hello, other professionals!) is what allows us to grow, evolve, and improve ourselves. By connecting with other professionals, we are pushed to excel, to do better work, and to integrate new ways of doing things where appropriate.
03 Collaboration improves our work quality
Piggy-backing off of the prior point: solopreneurship does not mean we can’t partner with other professionals. In fact, collaboration is often essential to us doing our job. I work with other copywriters, designers, brand strategists, product designers, and more, and collaborating with them effectively is paramount. If I wasn’t collaborating, the quality of my writing would suffer, because copywriting operates at an intersection of industries and departments.
04 Connection and collaboration give you cheerleaders
Let’s be honest: solopreneurship, entrepreneurship, and small business ownership can be lonely! By investing in relationships within our professional spheres, we are cultivating friendships and relationships with people who “get it” and who are as invested in our success as we are in theirs. They’ll cheer you on through the slow seasons, applaud your wins both big and small, and support you in your career aspirations no matter how your business evolves.
05 Connection and collaboration open doors
If I’ve learned anything, it’s that relationships are everything. Nearly all of my clients were recommended by other clients, and it’s been rare that I’ve ever had to solicit work outside of my network.
Whether you’re connecting directly with former colleagues and clients or connecting indirectly with your extended network, active and passive connection will catalyze greater success in your business.
Ways to Cultivate More Connection and Collaboration as a Solopreneur
Knowing that connection and collaboration are key to your success as a solopreneur is one thing, but actually facilitating them is entirely different. After all, business ownership is a busy venture, and if you’re working as a team of one, carving out the time to socialize can feel impossible. Not to mention, where do you even start? Luckily, you don’t need break rooms or conferences to infuse your work with the power of connection.
01 Engage on professional social media platforms
Whether it’s LinkedIn, X (Twitter), or online forums, make sure you’re active and connecting with your people. Like, comment, and repost, but also take the time to create content that adds value to the community. Even if you’re not actively seeking clients, this participation positions you as engaged, well-connected, and even as an industry expert– all things clients vet before signing a contract with you.
02 When creating content, be yourself
It can be easy to get pigeonholed in the advice to create what your audience wants to consume, and while that mindset can be helpful, it also needs to be balanced out with a good measure of authenticity. Post as yourself, about the things you’re dealing with in your business and about your unique perspective.
Chances are other people will resonate with what you’re creating, which is rare in an over-saturated market where a lot of people are simply parakeeting the same things in different ways. And by being yourself, you’ll attract the right collaborators and clients, not ones you have to put on a facade with.
03 Hammer your niche
This piece of advice operates under the assumption that you’ve done a fair bit of work exploring different “zones” of your business, and businesses adjacent to your business. You didn’t just fall off the turnip truck, and you know what you like.
Now it’s time to hammer your niche. For me, it was brand strategy. I love to write a myriad of things, including content and copy for publishers, publicists, and creative entrepreneurs. But the overlapping concept between all of them was brand strategy, and this affinity was confirmed when I actually worked directly with brand strategists and brand agencies.
So what did I do? I went and wrote about it. I incorporated its principles into my own branding. I exercised those muscles, even when I didn’t have a single brand strategy client in sight and was exclusively working with PR professionals. There’s a temptation to pivot and “chameleon” into whatever you think your current clients might want to see, but not only is this inauthentic, but it alienates the dream clients who would love you the minute they crossed paths.
By being true to my niche, I not only positioned myself to work with my dream clients but also have a unique angle to offer my clients in other industries. This allows me to add value for people who aren’t just doing copy but are looking for someone who has an eye for the big picture.
04 Show up, and show up consistently
Whether it’s an in-person industry event that is going on in your city, online events that you’ve found on Eventbrite or regular group meetings scheduled on Zoom, find your space and show up consistently.
This allows you to connect with other professionals, allows you to keep a finger on the pulse of the latest developments, holds you accountable for continuing to grow, and shows that you are an active and engaged industry leader. It also provides some fresh structure to your schedule other than your usual meetings and administrative work.
05 Be Attentive to the Details
Personalize your LinkedIn requests. Reach out to connect after an industry meeting. Send thank you cards and small gift cards to clients. Invite peers out for coffee and lunch to chat business. These little attentions to detail help to strengthen the connections you make while shaping your reputation to reflect your care and effort.
Interested in more inside advice that will help you thrive in your entrepreneurship? Read the blogs here. And if you’re looking to collaborate with a copywriter who can help you grow your business, connect today or drop me a line.