As a digital nomad or location independent entrepreneur finding the right entrepreneurial communities is essential. First and foremost you are a person and wired for social connection - the feeling that you belong to a group and generally feel close to other people.
According to research this is essential to feeling satisfied with your life. As an entrepreneur the challenges you face, the highs and lows, wins and losses, and the pressures of running a company cannot be easily understood, if at all, by those who are not entrepreneurs.
While you may know and believe social connection is important, finding the right communities can seem challenging when you are traveling. Not all communities are created equal and what might be great for someone else could not serve you well. Here are five things to look for in your entrepreneurial communities.
1. What do you want out of the community?
If you can’t answer this question you could be part of the right community now and unaware of it. For example, if you join a gym or yoga studio what is your intention? To lose weight, to get healthy, to breathe and relax, to stretch, practice meditating, etc.? There is never a right or wrong answer.
In an entrepreneurial community you may want to be with those who identify their businesses as startups or social entrepreneurs. Are you looking for people who can be vulnerable with their challenges and successes and are comfortable sharing them? Do you want to be connected with those who are in high growth stages of business? Know what to look for and you’ll be able to find it.
2. What do you want to give back?
You won’t create relationships by just taking or receiving. You become a part of a community when you give back. What are you prepared to give and is this the community to receive?
It’s an important distinction to make because you could have a wealth of knowledge to share but if the other entrepreneurs aren’t in a place to receive it you run not only the risk of being undervalued but you’ll also lose the sense of belonging which is what a community is all about.
3. What is the method of communication the community uses?
If it’s not easy for you to communicate and get involved you won’t. Let’s face it as an entrepreneur you’ve probably got a lot on your plate already. It shouldn’t feel like work to communicate. It should feel natural and part of how you communicate already.
4. How much structure and what size of the community are you comfortable with?
From private forums, to LinkedIn group, Facebook groups, Slack communities, etc. the structure varies greatly as does the number of participants. Some FB groups might have over 10k members and a post to ask for advice or recommendations could be an overload of information and even irrelevant. Do you want the group to provide resources, a newsletter, private groups for topics like a book club or fitness challenges? Think of it as attending a mastermind group or a conference. What is your preference?
5. Does the community offer in-person events?
This is crucial. While you might not be one to interact in person eventually when you become part of a community you’ll want to. Organizing is not something you may have time for so knowing the community admin can do this is a huge benefit. Additionally, know if you want to be part of a global or local community.
As an entrepreneur your time is valuable but having a social connection in the right entrepreneurial community is essential. Not every community is going to meet all your needs and desires. That’s okay. You can join more than one. However, wasted time in a community is not an option and there will be no social connection if you don’t do your homework beforehand.