Thursday, January 21, 2010

Freelancers And Location Independents: How To Meet Like Minded People.

As a location independent I can work from wherever I want, which is great.  I can work from Tahiti, or Miami, or somewhere exotic like that but I usually work at one coffeeshop in Madison because I like this one particular chair there.  So most days I am slogging away with my breakfast sandwich and coffee and its great.
Except I don't get to talk to as many people as I'd like. 
In an office, there's a whole bunch of people right around the corner to complain to, laugh with, and have grocery store birthday cake with.  I really miss the birthday cake.
So I was looking around one day and I realized that probably over 50% of the people in the shop with me were there every day also.  I even started to play a game of "guess what that person's profession is" with myself based on their computer and working posture. I eventually met one of them and we became friends. 
Now I had a coworker of sorts and I was thrilled because my new friend was going through the same things I was.
Still, Christmas was coming up and we didn't have our own office party to go to.  I wanted to wear this dress that I hadn't worn in a while and I wanted to meet more of the people in the coffeeshop and I wanted to do it wearing my dress dammit.
So we started a group.
On Facebook.  It's called Because We Can, Afternoon Drinks For Cool Small Business Owners.  It took maybe 10 minutes.  We invited about 5 people since we didn't know that many location independent people.  We immediately set up a non office Christmas Party For People With No Office and decided that probably she and I would be the only ones there in our party dresses. 
But some people showed up. 
They were people from coffeeshops.  We said things to each other like "Which coffeeshop are you at? I'm at the Barriques on PD." and "Which site did you use for your billing?"  and "Is your December really slow or is it just me?" 
I was shocked that people actually came to be honest but I was really happy that I got to wear my dress. Then we got bold and had another one this week. We invited everyone that came last time plus a few more and discussed whether the impending "Ice Storm" that the weathermen were predicting would kill our event.  I was going to go anyway since I was really sick of the coffeeshop.
And more people came.
This time I knew even less people but we had a whole lot more conversations about working remotely.  A lot of them told me they were really happy we started our group because they were feeling lonely working from home and how it wasn't really enough just to "connect with people online" like so many people will suggest.  One woman looked at me and said "it just drives me crazy sometimes.  I love, love, love what I do.  It's my passion.  But this is the price." 
I knew how she felt. It drives me crazy sometimes too.

I am really surprised at the number of people out there that I sit next to all the time that are silently working on their dream job.  I'm planning social media strategy and they are designing websites, or crime scene clean-up, or someone's finances, or video game makers and I'm happy because now I know some of them.  Next event I'm bringing birthday cake. 

Here's what we did:
Start a group
pick somewhere to meet that has a good drink special (if you call beforehand most places will give you a special.  Make sure you tell them it might just be you in a party dress) 
Pick somewhere that's a good place to talk but cooler than where all the other networking events are.
Pick a topic for your event.  Feel free to not talk about it but you can bring it up if conversation gets slow.



Blogger Royce said...

I have a job and I still want to go to this thing, is that weird? It sounds fun as hell

Although I wouldn't be able to participate in the "what billing system do I use" conversations. My job is horrible for meeting people though, it's a small office and no one is in the same mentality as me, it's rough.

What do you suggest I do?

January 21, 2010 at 10:08 AM  
Blogger Caitlin said...

People with office jobs are completely welcome! I am interested in meeting people with the entrepreneurial spirit and sometimes those people have a day job :)

January 21, 2010 at 10:17 AM  
Blogger Anda said...

I love this! I want to join in. I totally miss having the office coworkers around daily. And I would love an excuse to get out of my pajamas in the winter...

February 2, 2010 at 12:31 PM  

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