I’m super honored to be included in the Yogipreneur Blog Tour! When Rachael Cook asked me to be a part of it, I was on it like beans on rice! I’m a big fan of her work and thrilled to be hanging with so many talented and successful women.
Which says a lot about how much I admire what she’s doing because I’m a lone wolf and community building can feel challenging for independent spirits like me.
I don’t run with packs much. I am happier wandering off the beaten path and doing my own thing. Yet, I have managed to build a solid community of both clients and peers over the years. How do you do that when you are a free bird that thrives on flying solo?
First of all, even if you are a self proclaimed “lone wolf”, being alone in your work is an illusion. You are never really solo when you are running a business. Whether you are creating art, blogging, or doing anything online, you are engaging with others all the time. Consider this: without your clients, colleagues, and other supporters, you really don’t have much of a business.
Business is all about CONNECTING with others and forming relationships. It’s a rare biz indeed that doesn’t involve some sort of interaction with other humans!
But guess what? You can be part of a community and still do your own thing. Here’s how I develop strong bonds with both clients and peers but maintain my individuality and freedom at the same time.
Run freely amongst different packs! Don’t limit yourself to people who do the same work that you do. In fact, your business tapestry will be richer and more fulfilling if you float around multiple communities. I love my tarot homies, but also enjoy spending time with coaches, writers, artists, film people, musicians, cooks, and moms. At any given day, I might be interacting with a crafter, an author, or the barista down the street – sometimes at the same time! A focus on diversity creates a wide network of friendly faces.
Don’t be afraid to lead – even if your leadership style or line of work is a bit unusual. Odd leaders are more interesting. You may be worried about standing out because that feels vulnerable or risky. In fact, that risk of being judged may hold you back from stepping forward. Let that fear go. Instead, stand strong. Show your soul. People dig that.
For lone wolves it’s often hard to reach out or to ask for help. We tend to hold back until we feel “safe”. This can create overwhelm and a sense of isolation. Move past that trepidation. Extend a friendly, open hand and don’t be afraid to request help. You’ll get more yeses than nos. People love to help and will be more willing to offer you assistance.
Trust your instincts. Don’t feel comfortable? Is someone acting “off” or being unreasonable? Do you see indications that they have ulterior motives or may be trouble? If a wolf senses a situation is dangerous, they are quick to trust that and keep a polite distance. Feel free to set boundaries that are appropriate for you.
Don’t take anyone for granted – even the smallest, quietest ones may turn out to be your biggest allies. When it comes to community building, there is often a push towards getting in with “bigger” people. Instead, treat everyone equally – even those who may not seem “important”. Some of my biggest cheerleaders and promoters are people who’ve never spent one nickel with me.
Treat clients with devotion but treat your alone time as sacred too. Your quiet time is essential. It’s easy to get depleted when spending too much time with others, online or off. Lone wolves know that and make time every day for self care.
From time to time, you may feel a need to pull back from group activities. Honor that vibe and don’t feel you need to explain that to anyone. It’s perfectly fine to break away and go off on your own when you need to.
Did you know that wolves are friendly creatures? Many assume that they are not but that’s untrue. Be approachable. Aloof and unreachable is not a good look and does not encourage community. Make it easy for people to get to know you and connect with you.
Don’t like industry organizations? Fuggetabout them. If bureaucracy or politics isn’t your thang, you don’t have to register with anyone or join any “club” to network with your colleagues. Likewise, if gimmicky things like list building telesummits with over-the-top requirements don’t pass the smell test, it’s okay to say a firm no. Belonging isn’t as important as being true to yourself. Sniff out all alliances carefully before diving in.
Never be a wolf in someone else’s clothing. In other words, don’t worry about blending in. Show up as you, not what you assume people will like. Don’t be a cheap imitation of anyone else’s schtick. People appreciate authenticity.
Do not suck up. Ever. No matter how much you want to be in with the in crowd, you’re never going to feel good about yourself or your biz if you are in brown nose mode. Lone wolves hang with people that treat them with mutual respect. If someone makes you feel like you need to grovel to be in their presence, take a pass. Likewise, if you reach out and they ignore you, move on. You don’t need to kowtow to anyone, no matter how “big” they seem to be – let the sheep follow that path.
Never worry about numbers. A small pack of loyal clients and peers is better than a large tribe that doesn’t interact with you. Instead, focus on creating deep, meaningful relationships with the people that are showing up in your orbit. This will create a sustainable business and a thriving, joyful community.
Forget about competition. Resist the urge to copy or compare – and never be envious of someone else’s success. Instead, put your energy on helping your peers. Lift them up. Inspire. Cheer them on. Celebrate their wins. Applaud individuality and innovation. Support them whenever you have the chance. We’re all in this together, folks.
And lastly, listen closely. What do your people long for? What can you do to help? How is your work needed in the world? Where can you show up brightly? Practice keen hearing and be useful.
Always remember, it’s okay to be as independent as you wish. You can have a strong, positive community without conforming, toadying to anyone, or being an extrovert. Just start by being you as you are.
“Go out in the woods, go out. If you don’t go out in the woods nothing will ever happen and your life will never begin.” ~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Want more ideas on how you can build your community? Sign up for The ❤ Your Community Blog Tour. And make sure you check out yesterday’s post from my OM-girl, Caroline Frenette.
© Theresa Reed | The Tarot Lady 2014