Last week Tawnya Sutherland came and stayed with me for five days, which was an absolute blast!
I spent a week with her in Vancouver last year, and we've also traveled some together in between.
We spent a lot of time brainstorming and having coffees on the back deck, and also hiked Burgess Falls while she was here - which was great fun!
The interesting thing about Tawnya and I is that we have completely opposite strengths and weaknesses in business. She is fabulous on the back end where I am stronger on the front end. Otherwise, we have tons in common! 😉
But in addition to making great friends through your online business - people who truly get you, and can relate to your passion and goals - there are ways you can really benefit from those relationships...
In my 15 years in business I've made many wonderful friends & peers, many of which I've had the pleasure of meeting in person. Some I have not, but we have strong mutually beneficial relationships nonetheless.
In my experience, brainstorming is person is always more productive than online. Though you can certainly accomplish a lot via Skype, email, video chats and other means. Meeting up in person though, really solidifies those relationships - and it also gives you more insight into each other, both personally and professionally.
But in addition to brainstorming, whether online or offline, you'll meet people that you can room with at events. You'll be able to choose ideal accountability partners, or form hand-picked mastermind groups.
These types of relationships are extremely beneficial to your business!
I currently have a small accountability/mastermind group (just three of us) that I meet with online once a week, and we also meet up in person every chance we get.
We discuss our goals, hold each other accountable, brainstorm solutions, and of course support each other's ventures any way we can. It has made a HUGE difference to my productivity, and to my business as a whole.
I also have a local accountability partner, which just came about with a friend here in my area. We decided to get together once a week at a coffee shop to work on our books. You'll find it's much easier to set an appointment for an important task if you know someone is expecting you to be there working on it. 😉
We met in person originally through a small group of online business owners that live here in Middle Tennessee. Once I realized we had a pretty good group of people in the area, I started initiating get-togethers. Nothing formal and no business structure to it, just long lunches a few times a year where we can hang out & brainstorm and just get to know each other better.
I highly recommend you do the same!
You can find local get togethers on sites like meetup.com and there are local groups forming on Facebook all the time too. You'll also meet local business owners like you by attending events in your area.
Look for smaller events like Podcamp, Wordcamp, Barcamp or the Social Media Club. There are SMC chapters all over the world. (Scroll to the bottom of that page to choose your location)
I just returned from Virginia Beach too, where I met up with Debra Lloyd for a business/social get together. Debra and I originally met online in my Private Mastermind Group, and in person a couple of times at the NAMS event in Atlanta.
Actually I have probably met most of my closest friends, peers and partners initially through my Private Mastermind Group and similar online communities. From there we meet in person at events, form smaller groups for accountability or brainstorming, or find out we're local and become friends...
These relationships have been invaluable to my business, and to me personally. So often we work in total isolation when running an online business from home. Just having someone to bounce ideas off of, or get feedback from, can make a world of difference. Not to mention the profitable partnerships that form.
From friends to accountability partners to joint ventures and more... look for those connections that you can solidify into mutually beneficial relationships. 😉
p.s. If you're looking for an active mastermind group to join, I invite you to check out my Private Brainstorming Group. You can currently join us for as little as $20/month - but you'll want to act on it now, as there is a rate increase scheduled for May 8th, 2012...