My Journey to Self-Employment: Making Connections not Conversation
"It’s invigorating to share what you are doing, get suggestions about paths you might pursue, and talk about what has worked and not worked for others."
Talking to people is more than just a conversation.
Here’s where the rubber meets the road. How do I find funding for my big idea? I believe in it, but how do I find the support I need to make it a reality? While going through the Work for Yourself @ 50+ Toolkit, I found that there are several ways to go about it.
The first thing I went after was networking. I belong to a few groups of like-minded folks who are pursuing the same thing: a shingle that bears their name. It’s invigorating to share what you are doing, get suggestions about paths you might pursue, and talk about what has worked and not worked for others. You’d be amazed how talking it through can propel you forward when you are stuck.
We can look to Microbusiness Development Organizations (locally, like the Washington Area Community Investment Fund — WACIF), for guidance, counseling, training and friendly financing. The Small Business Administration has many options for folks just like us. SCORE, the SCORE Association, offers the sage counsel of retired executives who have run successful businesses and can provide insight into the challenges, pitfalls, successes and celebrations that come as you venture out on your own.
Finding a mentor is also a great idea. Mentoring from someone who can focus on your individual plan can be pivotal as you plot your progress; a mentor can guide you with ongoing, honest feedback and help you brainstorm your way to success.
Use social media. People have reached out to me on LinkedIn, which is vital to those of us looking for professional connections to our passion. I’m still struggling with Twitter, and I would have trouble keeping my comments to 140 characters, but I’m going to give it a try!
Talk to family, friends and colleagues in the field and get referrals from everyone; contact trade associations and do informational interviews with folks who are doing what you want to do. You never know where you might turn up a golden nugget of information. My interest in working as a voice talent was taken up by my sister, who referred me to a neighbor who is a film producer. I met a woman in line at the Social Security office who, as we talked careers, referred me to her brother at National Public Radio. In a career workshop, a participant referred me to a video producer at a city government agency.
Just talk to people . . . you’ll be amazed at what can happen!