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Feeling Disconnected in the Era of Mass Connectivity

We’re wired to thrive in communities. 

Social connections are one of the key elements of a healthy and happy life. It’s so important to step out of our heads and see what others have to say based on their experiences. Plus, collaboration typically makes a workday more fun than if you had gone solo!

This begs the question: how do you compare the value of in-person connections to virtual connections? 

Reflecting on the way we’ve been interacting with others is something we should do regularly. Are we intentionally making space in our lives to connect with people? Are we spending all our time connecting virtually, or are we only reaching out to those nearby that we already know well? 

“I don’t have time to see people IRL.”

Virtual connections, hands down, are vastly more convenient for the average American entrepreneur than in-person connections given the scheduling flexibility they offer. You can call, text, or DM someone from anywhere. You can easily slip in a 20-minute call between your morning yoga session and lunch.

Our society has also shifted towards an increasing amount of remote work. Many employees seem to appreciate this- not only is it typically more convenient or comfortable, but some feel they can get more work done. Maybe they find it annoying when someone from their team makes a point to repeatedly stop by their desk and ramble on about their weekend. Or, they've got a project that needs to be done by 4:30 pm, but that guy from marketing stopped them in the break room to chat and all they want to do is get back to their desk and finish up before it gets too late.

When we’re alone in our home offices, however, it can be lonely. That so-called ‘aimless chatter’ has devolved into a silence broken only by the light clatter of our keyboards. Video calls with our co-workers emerge only out of necessity, and these interactions are noticeably less rich.

When you meet with people in real life, their presence is weighted differently. Regardless of how high quality our video cameras have become, nothing can rival the feeling of sitting across the table from a friend. Their body language, the act of physically going out of your way to meet with someone- these are the special aspects of human connection that are unique to the IRL meet up.

What keeps us coming back to virtual connections is the ease at which we can access a community. Social media platforms have allowed us to connect with others like us that we otherwise may have never met. Our lives tend to feel more isolated than not, and at our fingertips, we have access to the constant presence of our virtual peers. 

When you open your favorite social media app, you’re immediately bombarded with hundreds of relevant connections. There's an overwhelming number of Facebook groups, subreddits, Twitter threads, and Instagram posts where you can quickly find and connect with others who share similar interests.

We automatically reach out to our virtual connections. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it might be worth it to see what changes in your life when you intentionally make time for both digital and in-person connections.

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We spent a month reaching out to local female entrepreneurs- here’s what we learned.

We’ve been busy reaching out to other Austin-based entrepreneurs during September. From DMing strangers on Instagram that we’ve never met to catching up with friends we’ve known through different stages of our lives, we invited purpose-driven women entrepreneurs to join us for coffee and happy hour. We’ve shared stories, attended events, and masterminded together. Unsurprisingly, we had some revelations and are here to share them with you!

Teresa’s reflections on this month of intention:

Connection. Humans are created to be interdependent. Humans want to be with other like-minded people as a tribe because deep down they fear to be alone. And while laptops and technology have given us ways to connect with other like-minded humans from every part of the globe, there’s something left to be desired. It doesn’t quite fill the cup. There’s something magical about person-to-person, real-life connection, and members of this virtual world of business are craving it. I daresay it is now a commodity.

Forming circles around food and drink date back to the beginning of humankind. It comes from a place of vulnerability- putting down our ‘swords’ and sharing a meal. Everyone’s hearts face one another and each person can be seen by the members of the circle. I’ve always loved creating a community around a table laden with food. It’s a form of communion, and I was reminded of my love for gathering people into safe spaces to allow magical connections to happen.

I truly believe that we need to see more of this in the modern-day. We all need more local in-person connections around an abundant table of food and drink, and I’m glad we’ve been able to create such a circle and invite other women into it. It’s vital to not underestimate the experience of being seen and beheld by our fellow community members.

What I saw, and continue to see in each person, was a fierce and determined yet heart-centered woman. Sometimes I saw that these women were lonely, and usually seeking alignment and connection. At our first meeting, each woman presented her put-together and accomplished self. Once they felt assured that this was a safe space to just come are they were and not have to brag or present a front, the masks were taken off one by one.

This was when the real talk happened. We were finally able to discuss the raw, real internal struggles that affected our whole selves and our businesses. That’s when true connection happened and a special circle was formed. That was the love tank that these women came to fill, and this accomplishment reflected her success in being seen, accepted, and supported as they were.

Each time we gathered, I could see a beautiful mosaic of leaders. Each woman was creating more beauty, goodness, and progression in her own life and the lives of others. Each woman was a leader in her own right: in thought leadership, as a guide of spirit and truth, and for her tribes. In the presence of other like-minded leaders, there was a sense of, “OMG, I’m not alone!” A place where each person could let down her guard and have other smart, caring women speak into her life, allowing her to experience greater levels of freedom and step into higher levels of courage. A place where they didn’t have to lead but could be heard and understood without shame nor judgment. Sharing about what we did and struggled with at the intersection of life and business was a common cord that bound us all. We all need these spaces of respite so we can go back to our tribes refreshed and with greater love, our cups overflowing.

Ashley’s thoughts on connection and community:

I believe that the people you choose to surround yourself with truly impact who you are. They influence your mood, your ambitions, and your lifestyle. They affect your perception of the world around you and help you perceive life through the lens of someone with different experiences.

After spending a month conversing with purpose-driven and self-aware female entrepreneurs, all of whom I’d never met before, I've condensed my thoughts into four takeaways.

  1. No matter how successful each person seems in their business or life, everyone is facing struggles that aren't typically apparent from the outside. We all know that comparison is the thief of joy, and I think it’s worth it to note that our perception of another’s business is usually made up of many of our personal assumptions.

  2. There’s always something you can learn from someone else’s business experiences. It doesn’t matter if they work in an entirely different industry or operate at a different stage of business from yours. When someone shares their failures and successes, listen closely. Inspiration can come from the most unexpected places!

  3. Be vulnerable! When we come together in an earnest effort to support each other and set judgment aside, we can more effectively discuss the issues and topics that seem uncomfortable to talk about. If these are the kinds of things you want to have conversations about, you need to put yourself out there.

  4. If you don’t feel like you have a lot to offer, you’re probably underestimating yourself. You don’t have to be an expert to offer some guidance to someone- you never know if that minor observation you made about something they said might lead them to their next breakthrough.

After the mastermind ended, many of the women who attended stayed well past the event’s end time. They found people they were excited to connect with again in the future. Many also told me that they were able to find clarity on some topics they had been struggling with for a while, and some finally found the next direction to take their lives and business in. I'd call this month a success!

So, what can I do?

It’s no surprise that finding a community, virtual or in-person, is incredibly beneficial to you in many ways. 

If you’re an entrepreneur looking to make more in-person connections, what can you do? I’ve compiled a list of action steps that you can take today to start making some like-minded, locally available entrepreneur friends!

  1. Join a pre-existing meetup group in your local community.

    I recommend looking at Facebook for groups like these! You can also check out meetup.com.

  2. Attend networking events.

    If you aren’t looking for a regular meetup, try a one-off networking event and chat up some people there. Oftentimes, these networking events also have some fun programming included- like panels, roundtables, or masterminds. Looking through Facebook Events, Eventbrite, or even googling “[your city/state/country] networking events” will probably get you some results.

  3. Create and host your meetups yourself.

    Can’t find the kind of meetup you’re looking for? Make one! It can be as simple as getting a coffee with a handful of people one afternoon. You can promote it with a Facebook Event or Group, Eventbrite, a flyer in a public place, or even word of mouth (tell your friends to bring their friends). 

  4. Reach out to strangers on social media for a 1-on-1 chat.

    Open your favorite social media app and use the search tools to locate others in your area. Type in location keywords, as well as relevant interest keywords like ‘entrepreneur’ or ‘business owner’. Once you find someone who you think you’d like to meet, just send them a nice DM introducing yourself and stating that you’re trying to make some friends in the area. Then, invite them to a coffee chat, lunch, or happy hour.

Now, we’ve got a challenge for you!

Reach out to someone this month and get a drink or meal with them. You can use one of the strategies we recommended above, or you can rekindle an old friendship. You don’t even have to talk business- just get out of your office and spend time with someone!

We’re a pretty fun group of ambitious and purpose-driven people to hang out with, if we do say so ourselves. If you’d like to validate the truth of this claim and spend some time with us IRL, click here if you want to be notified when we host mastermind events as well as retreats.

Do you have any tips on how to connect with other local entrepreneurs? Share them with us below- we’d love to hear ‘em!