The life of a portfolio professional can be a bit lonely at times. Many of us have shifted away from the bustle of a busy office environment, trading in watercooler small talk for the quietude of a home office. That can leave you feeling disconnected. Yes – your clients are real people and we have loads of conversations over Zoom – but who has got your back?
It doesn’t have to be that way. True, you’re not sharing a physical space with coworkers in the same way you used to, but you’re far from alone when it comes to the self-employed experience. There are millions of people out there, just like you, pursuing their passions and forging their own paths, working remotely. They are often facing similar problems to you and also need someone friendly to problem solve, laugh, cry and collaborate with.
Did you know that over half of the world population is on social media? That’s 4.1 billion people posting, commenting and connecting across more than eight different platforms for an average of two and a half hours a day—roughly 15% of their waking lives.
When you put things into perspective, it seems a bit crazy, really. Surely this dependence on social media is doing more harm than good? Not when used the right way.
For many of us who have joined the remote workforce, technology and social platforms have been a godsend. That’s because they provide new avenues for building up a virtual community. That’s important when you first start out, mostly because things can be a bit difficult to navigate. Social platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and The Portfolio Collective offer new, virtual means of meeting and linking up with other remote workers.
Unlike with face-to-face communities, you can now connect with people on a global scale—you’re no longer limited to a postcode when it comes to setting up a coffee date or attending an event. You can build meaningful relationships with people from all walks of life, swapping stories and advice in a way that’s mutually beneficial.
Sharing and learning; giving and getting; challenging and adapting—it’s all part of the human experience. It’s what inspires us to grow and develop throughout our careers, which is why it’s such a significant part of being a portfolio professional.
Humans are inherently tribal. We don’t thrive in states of isolation. In fact, spending too much time on our own can be harmful to both our mental health and our professional motivation. The sensation of loneliness many remote workers experience is a symptom of a larger social issue—we feel more disconnected than ever before. In the US, loneliness has been labelled as an epidemic, with three in five Americans experiencing feelings of isolation. In the UK, one-fifth of the population has reported feeling alone.
That’s why community is so vital. When you work from home, you remove yourself from the social environment of an office, and that lack of face-to-face human interaction can negatively impact your energy. You also risk losing out on the event aspect that comes with working in an office—Christmas parties, quiz nights, team drinks, and the like.
When you build up an online community of like-minded professionals, you open up more opportunities for meaningful conversation and virtual interactions. Since the start of 2020, the virtual event industry has been booming. By 2021, it’s projected that 80% of all internet traffic will be video conferencing—things like festivals, talks, panels and networking events will continue to dominate the virtual space, primarily because it’s more cost effective and accessible.
So start reaching out and finding those events. Message people whose stories have inspired you. Join an online community and become active in the conversation. The more you take part, the less isolated you’ll feel and the more you’ll learn about what you can accomplish.
A good community is a multilayered support network. It doesn’t exist within any particular confines; it expands and grows as you advance and develop in your career. The members of your community are there there to bolster and advise you along the way.
Take, for example, our Catapult Course cohorts. Every time someone embarks on the Catapult course, they join a group of 50 professionals also looking to boost their portfolio careers. People join for the learning, but what they find during that time, is that they’re building a close-knit community of smart, supportive professionals through the shared experience of learning. Those sorts of connections last long after the four week course ends. Participants leave as part of a new tribe; a tribe that can continue to grow and flourish as they get more and more engaged in The Portfolio Collective community.
It’s about building lasting relationships that can help move you forward and provide support when needed. We’ve seen people in our community sharing successes, asking for opinions on their websites, problem solving tricky situations and celebrating successes together—this is the support team for portfolio professionals.
Stephen Reader, community member at The Portfolio Collective
To build connections, you need to engage with people through a variety of different opportunities, whether that’s online chat, live learning sessions, group coaching, discussion threads, digital networking events, live panels and Q&As or even just one-to-one calls with people you’ve met through the community. The more you connect with your tribe, the less disconnected you’ll feel.
Although, networking is definitely a big part of it. The main thing to keep in mind is that you’re not building up connections for the sake of swapping business cards. It’s about creating a support system; a place where you give as much as you get. A virtual village.
In the beginning, you may rely heavily on your community to learn the ropes of the portfolio lifestyle, but once you have a few successes under your belt, you’ll be better suited to share your own insights and mentor a new wave of bright eyed aspiring portfolio professionals. It’s a cycle of development and growth that is powered by enthusiasm, generosity and learning. It’s also a fabulous way to make lasting friendships that exist beyond the realm of talking about work.
When you’re part of a community, you are:
- Constantly learning how to reinvent yourself and succeed
- Helping others to become more successful
- Building relationships with potential collaborators and customers
- Exchanging innovative ideas and challenging one another
- Sharing the highs, the lows and the virtual hugs
When you offer something valuable to others, you create a bond of belonging. That could be a bit of advice, emotional support or even just genuine enthusiasm over the work you’re both doing. We have seen it all in our newsfeed. It’s all part of a larger journey of learning and development. If you’re new to the portfolio profession, community is a big part of building the confidence and expertise you need to succeed.
So don’t be shy. Find your tribe that will support you every step of the way.
Why not start with our Catapult course? Sign up for our next cohort and surround yourself with people who inspire you. It’s all about learning and growing together. This can be your tribe. Don’t you think it’s about time you joined them?