On today’s show, I want to talk about simplicity and how to pare down your network. I talk a lot about building business relationships, which is a different way of considering how to build your network. Former podcast guest Anna Hetzel talked about this also, how to build community intentionally.
By definition, a community will be smaller than a network. A network is often vast and you can’t make personal connections with everyone in your network. A community should be made up of people you actually know and who are invested in your success—and you are invested in theirs.
There have been times in my freelance journey where that large network is overwhelming. I’ve done things related to that network that are exhausting or a waste of time. So, as my business became more successful, I saw what was helpful and were I wanted to invest. I started to intentionally set the rest of it aside. And every now and again, after I try new things and new groups and new resources, I have to remind myself again to pare back.
Here are some examples of potential overwhelm where you might need to pare back:
I purposely started using LinkedIn more and also more strategically this year. I know my client base is more likely to be on LinkedIn than Twitter, where I usually live. However, I was noticing that a lot of the posts I was seeing were from people I didn’t remember ever connecting with. And when I would look at my list of connections, there was image after image of someone I didn’t remember.
I might have met this person once at a social gathering or a conference, but if we’ve never really communicated since, why am I connected with them? I had over 900 connections on LinkedIn! I felt like they were cluttering my feed and preventing me from truly making connections.
After two rounds of culling my list to people I actually know and actually communicate with now and again, I am down to about 400 connections.
Since then, I have noticed a definite difference in my feed. The posts now relate to my business in some way, and I recognize the original posters.
Online community groups
This may mean Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, Slack channels, tweet chats or private forums.
I think a lot of us looked for new groups to join, or even started our own online communities, when the pandemic hit, so we could feel connected to other humans while in lockdown. But most of us aren’t in full lockdown anymore, and either way there are probably some groups you outgrew.
It’s OK to join groups and leave them later. These don’t have to be a permanent fixture in your life.
What online communities are you a part of? Where do you spend the most of your time?
Two more questions: What groups are you in that you just don’t participate in? You can easily leave or delete those.
Next: How do those groups make you feel? Are you overwhelmed? Do they create anxiety? Do they contribute to your imposter syndrome?
If these groups are creating negative emotions, I highly recommend cutting back or eliminating them from your life.
Ask yourself: What if you could only be a part of three online communities? What would they be? Rank what you love and stick with those. And delete the rest.
Smaller, more intimate groups
Maybe these are ongoing text chains or regular Zoom chats with small groups. These can be amazing for your business, your mental health, for getting support and having camaraderie. I’m not encouraging you to get rid of all these smaller communities, but it’s worth at least considering each one individually and asking yourself: What do you get out of them? Do they lift your spirits or do they overwhelm you?
Also, please remember that you should never feel obligated to be a part of these communities. You can tell people, at any time, that you are feeling overwhelmed by your responsibilities and the amount of time available in each day and that you need to cut back on some things.
A few more things to consider:
- Email newsletters
- Magazine and newspaper subscriptions.
- Membership organizations and committee involvement.
Biz Bite: Put subscription deadlines on your calendar.
The Bookshelf: “The Thursday Murder Club” by Richard Osman.
Jennifer Duann Fultz’s Hope You Get Rich course.
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Episode #113 of Deliberate Freelancer: How to Build Relationships, Not a Network, with Anna Hetzel
Episode #91 of Deliberate Freelancer: All Things Pricing: Project Rates, Day Rates, Retainers and More, with Jennifer Duann Fultz
Episode #112 of Deliberate Freelancer: How and When to Say No