A version of this article first appeared at Antwerp Avenue.
Working for yourself as a freelancer or business owner has its perks, but it can sometimes get lonely, especially if you work from home. We all need some form of human contact in our working lives – whether it’s someone to bounce ideas off, spell check an email for you at the end of your day when your eyes are fuzzy, or just to chat with as a midday break.
Plus, working for yourself can come with enormous amounts of stress, and unlike a traditional office environment where you can have a sneaky bitch session with your colleagues about a difficult client, when you work for yourself, you’re left to stew in silence. Building a support network of girl bosses in similar industries or with similar working rhythms can give you the encouragement you need to get through those difficult days, and people to celebrate with when you score a major win.
We all need some form of human contact in our working lives – whether it’s someone to bounce ideas off, spell check an email for you at the end of your day when your eyes are fuzzy, or just to chat with as a midday break.
So, how do you go about assembling a girl gang of freelancers and entrepreneurs when all of your friends work full-time in an office?
Work from a co-working space
These days, there are co-working spaces popping up all over the place. From back rooms in hotels to empty spaces above cafes, it seems like every spare piece of real estate is being turned into communal office space for rent. The great benefit of this is that while renting a desk in a co-working space used to be very expensive, there are now endless options to suit any budget. Examples include having a ‘flex’ membership which allows you to work within the co-working space whenever you like, but without a fixed desk, or time-sharing a desk in an office with someone else who also works for themselves. The best thing about co-working spaces is that many offer facilities like gyms or yoga classes, and there are often social mixers which allow you to meet other freelancers, potential work contacts, and new friends. You can build a gang through the people you meet at designated events, and also those you run into around the building while you’re making yourself a cup of tea.
Match your workspace to your hobbies
If you can’t afford a co-working space, or would rather work from cafes, try and think outside the box in terms of where you can meet people. If you’re into film or art, for example, try and work from a cafe in a cinema or museum. That way, you’re guaranteed to meet people who are into the same hobbies as you, and it’s an easy step to suggest catching a movie or an exhibition together, especially if you work from one space regularly and see the same people time and time again. Find smart ways to start conversations with other freelancers when you’re waiting in line to get coffee, asking them if they’ve seen the latest show, and if they’d like to see it together. The bonus here is that arts-oriented locations can help keep you creative – you can soak up some culture in your work break, and get some inspiration for your next project.
Attend industry events
It can be daunting at first, but going to events especially for women in your industry is one of the best ways to form a gang. The majority of women who go to events like the Girlboss Rally in the United States are looking to make connections and work friends anyway, so it’s an easy move to swap social media handles and keep in touch online. If you all live in different places, a girl gang WhatsApp group is a great alternative, where you can share wins, client horror stories, and get advice from an impartial and supportive group of girls. At Antwerp Avenue, we’re all about women empowering women, so remember to check in with your community and give them some encouragement when they need it – and you’ll get all the back when you encounter your own work issues!