By Emily Peters
Isolation is one pitfall to the otherwise incredible experience of being self-employed. If you feel that way, you’re ironically not alone in your isolation—a recent study has shown that nearly half of self-employed people feel lonely since going solo.
Bottom line: even independent travel professionals with day job still need community—for your mental and career health.
Community for Introverts vs. Extroverts
Forming community looks different for people depending on where they get their energy. Introverts generally feel like they spend energy when they socialize, and need rest before they can reconnect. Extraverts, on the other hand, derive energy from hanging out with others and might struggle with abundant alone time.
Recognizing where you fall on the energy spectrum will help you determine the best kind of connection for you. Introverts may find an occasional visits with a fellow travel professional is enough to keep them grounded. Extroverts might thrive in the broader community, like meetups or networking groups. Whatever you do, don’t force yourself into someone else’s definition of community. Knowing what works best for you is the first step towards building something sustainable.
Community doesn’t magically appear. If you’re unsatisfied with what you’ve experienced thus far, it actually IS possible to create the kind of community you want.
MTravel has a private Facebook group where all of our independent travel professionals are able to mingle and to take their connections deeper. For example, if you’re struggling with marketing your business, use the group to invite others local to your area to start a quarterly coffee club to share strategies. Hate traveling alone but want to take advantage of more FAM trips? Start small by inviting fellow travel professionals to attend a ship or hotel inspection with you. From there (if your travel styles jive together), see if others are interested in forming a travel group to help you experience more of what the world has to offer.
By proactively creating community for yourself, you simultaneously create opportunities for others. Leading by example is the best way to plant seeds for lasting relationships and strengthens your ability to take initiative. That’s pretty darn valuable when you’re self-employed.
Creativity slumps are a red flag that you need community, stat. Opening up to co-working, or sharing a workspace with a fellow travel professional, can give that jolt to the system you need. Use your host agency’s support team or social media for referrals on someone in your area that you can co-work with. Many areas offer office spaces that are rentable for a day (or part of a day!), or you could simply meet at a coffee shop for a morning once a month. With co-working you can get the best of both worlds: the freedom of self-employment with the creative stimulation of human contact.
Invest in Industry Events
Industry events are crucial to furthering your travel career AND open the door to supportive friendships—and events like MTravel’s Annual Educational Conference offer a unique conduit to community.
For an introvert, intimate round-table discussions and dine-arounds (supplier-hosted dinners where travel agents can share a meal together) give you an opportunity to connect and provide a chance to bond with someone with whom you have an organic connection. For the extrovert: cocktail parties, panel discussions and the larger group events will give you loads of chances to talk with with a generous variety of travel professionals.
Forming a community as an independent travel professional is a process. With each new person you meet, you’re essentially creating your work culture—and that’s worth tending to. Remember you get what you give when it comes to building relationships with others in your field. Don’t be afraid to create community the you want!
Are you ready to start your independent travel business with MTravel? We are here to help! Contact us here or call us at 800-870-5799. Be sure to check out our website at www.MTravel.com and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.