How Workspaces and Associations are Excellent Community Building Sources
It was 3PM and I was still in my workout clothes huddled in front of my laptop, working on cranking out my latest article. I opened my mouth to mutter something to myself (hey, no judgment, we all do it!), and my voice came out as hoarse and croaky.
It was then that I was struck with a somewhat scary thought: It was late in the afternoon, and yet I somehow hadn’t uttered a single word all day.
As a freelancer, I work at home with my scruffy little dog as my only co-worker. So, save for the additional phone call or in-person client meeting, there are many days when I don’t speak to another human for hours on end.
To some people, that probably sounds like a dream (hooray, no need to navigate those complex colleague relationships!). And, I’ll be the first to admit that there are some definite perks involved in working alone. However, here’s one piece of that puzzle that can’t be ignored: It can also be incredibly isolating.
It’s for this very reason that I’ve come to love two things: Co-working spaces and professional associations. For freelancers who often find themselves in in-depth conversations with their own pets—out of sheer desperation for a simple conversation—these two things can be an undeniable help and benefit. Here are just a few of the many reasons why.
You Can Make a Human Connection
Let’s start with the most obvious one first. While working alone is a surefire way to reach maximum productivity, you can often find yourself missing the social aspect that comes along with more traditional working environment. There are no lunches with your co-workers or friendly chats around the break room coffee maker.
Luckily, this is a problem that workspaces and associations can help you solve. By hauling your stuff to set up shop in a co-working space, you’ll get the benefit of quite literally working side-by-side with other talented freelancers and solopreneurs.
When joining a professional association, you likely won’t set up your laptop in order to churn out billable hours next to those people. But, they’re still a great way to go past your computer screen and form a real relationship with some like-minded professionals in your field.
So, if you’re sick of asking your dog what he thinks you should have for lunch, these outlets could be just what you need to make a real, human connection.
You Can Gather Resources
Those human connections can do a lot more good than just helping you avoid feeling like a blurry-eyed hermit. They can often benefit you by arming you with tons of valuable resources, insights, and information you can use to improve your own business.
Perhaps you’ll park your laptop next to a WordPress expert in your co-working space, and he ends up being the perfect person to finally help you with that issue you’ve been experiencing on your freelance website. Or, maybe you’ll engage in an interesting discussion with a fellow member of your association about how to price a complex project.
Freelancing is all about being independent—but that doesn’t always mean you need to go it alone. Lean on the resources you meet through these different opportunities, and you’ll build a solid network of people who can truly help you when you need it.
You Can Find Additional Work
Do you know how I’ve landed a handful of my existing freelance jobs? Surprisingly, through other freelancers. That’s right—if a fellow freelance writer was too busy to accept a project or simply wasn’t interested in what a client was requesting, he or she would refer me to the prospective client.
Freelancing can seem inherently competitive. But, there’s also a great sense of community—and getting involved in associations and workspaces is an effective way to foster that spirit.
Maybe that WordPress expert you end up working next to has been seeking a writer or a photographer he can use for the websites he creates. Perhaps an association member knows of a client looking for work that’s right up your alley.
Regardless of what plays out, know this: Growing your network as a freelancer is hardly ever a bad thing. And, doing so in a way that’s both fun, productive, and gets you out of the prison you call your home office? Well, there’s nothing better than that.
You Can Gain Legitimacy
It can be difficult to establish legitimacy and credibility as a freelancer. You no longer get to associate yourself with a well-known brand and a shiny company logo. You’re left to forge your own path and build a solid reputation you can use to land more work.
Fortunately, workspaces and associations can come in handy in this regard. Being affiliated with an industry organization immediately boosts your professionalism and increases your legitimacy as a freelancer.
And, how do co-working spaces help with this? Well, if you’ve ever had to meet with a client in a busy coffee shop, you know just how frustrating that can be. By using a co-working building, you have a quiet, professional spot you can meet with potential and existing clients—without the obnoxious whir of the espresso machine in the background.
That all sounds great, right? So, now you’re left with one big question: How exactly can you find these co-working spaces or associations that are so great for your blossoming freelance career?
Well—as you likely saw coming—we don’t think Croissant can be beat for finding awesome co-working spaces that fit your vibe.
And, as far as associations go, there are tons available—regardless of your chosen field or profession. In our Welcome to Your Independence freelance ebook, we talk a little more in-depth about associations and how you can find bonds (and projects) from people that might otherwise remain complete strangers to you. But, here’s a brief list you can check out to get started:
- Graphic Designers (aiga.org)
- Illustrators (theaoi.com)
- Copywriters and Editors (naiwe.com)
- Content Marketers (the-cma.com)
- IT Pros (aitp.org)
So, venture away from your home office, get out there, and see just how much your freelance business improves. Good luck!