Humans are inherently social creatures. More specifically, we are inherently community-oriented creatures. As appealing as the notion of the lone wolf archetype may be, we didn't evolve to be isolated individuals. This is evidenced by the impact of loneliness and the drive for connection. In fact, the brain associates loneliness with actual pain. It can decrease our general sense of resiliency and can cause depression and anxiety.
So what does that tell us?
It tells us that connection is vital. And where do humans find connection? In a community and this very fact makes having a community a necessity, not a luxury. In fact, Abraham Maslow even places love and belonging as the third tier on his Hierarchy of Needs.
Why is community important for freelancers and entrepreneurs specifically?
As entrepreneurs and freelancers, it can be incredibly easy to slip into isolation or feelings of disconnection. According to one study, 64% of freelancers report feeling lonely as a direct result of their work.
But they don't have to be. We do not have to be lonely.
Community is the solution to this. When we have strong communities around us and feel a sense of belonging to them we develop protection against stress, depression, and anxiety. It can also fuel our desire to perform well and help increase our sense of self-efficacy and self-esteem. Essentially, feelings of belonging make us feel happy and capable.
Now, happiness is reason enough to seek out a community and belonging, but if you're looking for another, it also motivates us to perform well and supports our creative capacities. When we interviewed NOMAWO member, Emma, about her experiences in SCALE & CLUB she said, "It's the first time I'm actually finding tangible success and I think it's related directly to that support system." She also said "It's the first experience of my life where I'm having direct correlations. Where it's like, okay, I'm learning this and I'm implementing it this week ahead and it's going to have this ripple effect."
What does having a community mean for your business?
Within communities, we generate social capital. You can think of social capital as the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from existing within a social network. As we generate social capital, we find ourselves accessing larger networks and the resources within them become available. This creates a snowball effect that helps you build your business according to the vision you set out for.
It also helps you gain new perspectives and find potential solutions you might not have thought of. We see this regularly in CLUB. Just a few weeks ago our CLUB session was all about peer-to-peer coaching. Each person brought in something that was top of mind and in various rounds, the group worked together to help find potential solutions and strategies. By the end of each round, everyone seemed lighter, had a solution, and had a clear and practical next action for the topic they brought to the table.
How do you find your freelance and entrepreneur community?
Community is important but how do you actually find that? This is the tricky part and it's also part of why we created NOMAWO CLUB. We wanted to provide the space for all the benefits we just described to happen, give freelancers and entrepreneurs a sense of belonging and place, and help them achieve their business dreams and goals.
Find your community with these tips:
- Consider what you want to connect on. People connect over all sorts of things - hobbies, jobs, passion projects, sports, and more. Maybe your community will be one that connects over being freelancers and entrepreneurs. Maybe it won't be. What's important is that you decide what kind of community you want to be in.
- Google is your best friend. Communities exist, virtually and physically, on pretty much everything known to humankind. Do some research and find the one you want.
- Test the waters. Reach out and get a sense of the community. You don't have to commit right away. Chances are, if it's a good fit for you, you'll be a good fit for the community.
But whatever you do, remember there are few things more powerful in generating a sense of belonging than the act of giving. Share your knowledge, your network, your wisdom, whatever you have and be open to whatever is given back.
And if we do say so ourselves, we have an amazing community of freelancers and entrepreneurs with a shared vision of growing both personally and professionally in their businesses. Check out SCALE and CLUB! We'd be happy to have you.