Sometimes friends and family are not going to understand you.
I am married to a wonderful man who will support me in almost anything I set out to do. That being said, he doesn’t always understand me.
If I am working on my book and need to vent my frustrations over a character not doing what I want them to do, his response is, “you’re the writer, you can make them do whatever you want them to do.”
If I ask him to read something I’ve written, he will say “that sounds good,” and that’s the end of it for him. He’s not as emotionally invested as I am, and he can’t get to the same level of excitement as me.
This is not meant to say anything bad about my husband. This mentality goes both ways. When he talks to me about work situations, I can somewhat sympathize, but I’ve never spent a day inside a tank trying to fix it. I’m not going to have the same understanding or reaction he has to the difficulties that arise in that situation.
What does this mean? Does this mean I give up because I can’t get my husband as excited as I am? Does this mean I go at it alone, hoping for the best?
No. Just as my husband can go to his colleagues at work and get the level of support and understanding he needs about the frustrations in his job, I can build a network of colleagues.
Finding a Support Group
When you hear support group, you probably automatically think of mental health clinics gathering like-minded patients to discuss their difficulties and help each other through.
The idea here is not much different. Just as these patients come together for support, we each need to find like-minded people to help and encourage each other.
Honestly, everyone has some form of support group, they just don’t normally call it that. Any time friends or colleagues get together to discuss their triumphs and failures they are acting as a support group to each other. Businesses that participate in business after-hour events are participating in a support group, networking with like-minded individuals.
Artists, freelancers and entrepreneurs need this same type of support, they just may have to go about finding their group a little differently. Your friends, while being encouraging, may not understand where you are coming from if they are not going through similar situations. You are less likely to have a built-in network of colleagues easily accessible.
If this is the case, what can you do to find your support group?
Reach out to like-minded people in your community
Chances are, no matter where you live, there are other people seeking similar aspirations. Seek these people out.
Find groups that meet-up in your community. You can use Meetup to find people if you are having difficulty, or you can search the newspaper for upcoming events and meetings. Find where your people are already coming together and get involved.
You can also go to places where your support group are likely to frequent.
Are you a writer? Chances are you could meet other writers at the bookstore or the library. Are you a musician? Seek out places where musicians are encouraged to practice or perform. Are you an entrepreneur? Make a trip to the chamber of commerce and see if they have a list of groups in your area.
There are many ways to meet like-minded people in your community. You just have to be willing to seek these people out.
But what if you can’t find a group to connect with?
Create your own group
If you can’t find an established group in your area, or you find that you don’t fit in with an established group, you can always create your own.
Chances are there are other people who have felt the same but feared trying to create their own groups. These people will welcome your efforts. You can leave fliers in businesses that would attract your group or reach out to people on a community Facebook group.
If a business is willing to let you use their space for a meeting place, they may even be willing to advertise the group for you. This may start out small, but that is not a bad thing. You want a chance to connect with like-minded people. You want to be able to get to know each other so you can be supportive of each other.
Find online groups
Facebook has groups for almost anything you can imagine. If you are having trouble connecting with people in your community, or just need something more, search for groups in your niche.
Facebook groups will allow you to connect with people, ask questions, answer questions, sometimes even promote your services. This is a way to connect with like-minded people all over the world.
Do a quick search using keywords for your niche and find a group that interests you. Make sure you check out the group before joining. You want to understand the purpose of the group and make sure they really are a good fit for you.
Connect on social media
Twitter allows you to follow people that interest you and interact with their tweets. This is a great way to connect with your people. As you interact with people and begin to follow and be followed (it sounds stalkery, and well I guess in some ways it really could be) you will find people that understand you and can build relationships that could be beneficial to both.
With Facebook, most people are connecting with people they already know, but you can still build new relationships through groups you connect with or community sites. You can also be brave and reach out to people you come across if so inclined.
LinkedIn is a professional connection site. You build your online resume and make connections with people in your niche. The idea is to build relationships for business purposes, seeking people that could help you find a job or connect to others who could do so. This can also be a good place to connect with others in your market.
Start building relationships
As you can see, there are many ways to connect with like-minded people. When you find your support group, you can take comfort in knowing you have people you can discuss ideas and share knowledge.
You may still want to try to get your loved ones excited about your endeavors, but at least when they dampen your spirits with their less than enthusiastic “that’s great,” you will know you have somewhere else you can go to get the feedback you need.
Understand, this isn’t about finding your cheerleaders who will make you feel good about yourself, this is about finding the people who can help you and who can rely on you as well.
Feel free to connect with me on social media. You can follow me on Twitter or Facebook. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn. I’m also on Instagram, but I will be honest I’m on this site less frequently than the others.
Even if you don’t decide to connect with me, make sure you find those connections you need to motivate and encourage you!