Captain Obvious time: running an online biz can be pretty damn lonely.

All day, every day, it’s just you and the cat. Instead of seeing Sally as your neighbor you start wondering how she fits into your target market. When you ask your local barista about his hobbies you’re not actually hitting on him, you’re just trying to build an avatar for your next marketing campaign.

It’s all just teeny tiny bit dehumanizing.

And when your mailman literally creeps up to your front door so he can deliver your mail without getting sucked into a 2-hour conversation with you, it might be time to do something about your current level of entrepreneurial isolation.  

The good news is that, as an entrepreneur, you have a huge opportunity to be part of a community, whether you join an already thriving online (or in-person) community, or build your own online referral network. Either way, with a bit of effort, you’ll knock that entrepreneurial isolation on the head AND find a way to feed your business success.

Oh, and the mailman will be really fucking relieved too.

So how do you build your community?

Be awesome to your clients.

Forget avatars and target markets for a minute — the people buying from you are actual human beings. And they don’t have to just love the products you’re selling, they have to love the whole experience of buying from you.

When you start seeing customers as people instead of data you automatically feel less isolated in your business. You gain the headspace to start thinking about ways you can start over-delivering on those big exciting promises you’ve been making.

Maybe you’re going to host an event for your regular clients, check in with customers more often, or start a community for the people who buy your stuff. Boom — you’re already feeling more connected with actual human beings and your people are soooo going to appreciate your efforts.

Be a good “host”.

We get it: when you’re just starting out in business you look at all of the people around you with their never-ending list of connections and wonder how the fuck they did it. Because so far you only have two. And one of those is your cat.

But here’s the great thing about making connections — you only need to start with a couple of people before the snowball effect kicks in and you have yourself a thriving online referral network.

So look for ways that you could possibly connect the people you have in your network right now (though remember to check with them before you go passing on their details!).

Are there some whose professions go hand and hand and who might get a kick out of collaborating? Or some who might just get along socially because they have so damn much in common? Giving people connections that will be useful for them in some way is such a powerful step in creating that sense of community you’re craving.

And it generally pays off business-wise as people genuinely want to return the favor and throw referrals your way too.

Love is contagious.

Guys, you have to remember that you love what you do.

Like Rachel’s Budapest bagel guy (that she still remembers from a trip she took four years ago!).

This guy turned serving bagels and coffee on his small patio plot into an actual art form — he was clearly totally jazzed about his job, greeting every single customer with just the most enthusiasm. And he somehow managed to communicate with everyone, even though it was tourist territory and no-one spoke a word of Hungarian.

But he did more than just serve breakfast: he hosted.

He actually turned the tables around so we could all talk to each other; he chatted to us and introduced us to other customers he thought we might like. A simple search for a decent breakfast bagel somehow turned into a great house party!

And although that sounds like it could have been a little weird and intrusive (fellow introverts, I can feel you shudder from over here!), honestly this guy pulled it off because of the enthusiasm and joy he brought to his work.

Love is contagious and when you love what you do, when you host rather than just serve, you can’t help but attract people to you. People who’ll become an integral part of your community, who’ll rave about your business, and who’ll become fiercely loyal to you.

Choosing to remember, every day, with every interaction, that you love what you’re doing and that you’re privileged to be doing it will turn you into Budapest Bagel Guy. And we guarantee that dude never feels lonely!

Watch the whole episode here.