I was having dinner with a long-time friend of mine who knows me well. He said he was worried about me going into business on my own, especially given the nature of what I'm doing. His worry was that I would become isolated and not have enough contact with people.
Now there's a thought.
As it happens, since I left my work in a Higher Education Business School and started a business where my work takes place online I have started interacting with many more people. Some of that interaction is online, but my face-to-face contact has probably more than quadrupled.
A major part is related to identity. I felt indexed in the wrong category before. Who I was outside my discipline, my professional and institutional expectations, were not relevant. However, now that I work for myself I create the tags for my own identity. What's more I feel
quite relaxed about able to let go of appreciative of the ways people tag me in ways that make sense for them.
And feeling relaxed, even playful, about my identity puts me in a better position to connect with other people.
The other reason I have more contact with people is that I'm doing more projects and activities with a wider range of people. Most of my projects are distributed and the people I work with are geographically very far away. That makes both our online interactions better organised and more meaningful than if we were sitting in the same building.
Working online also means that we search for more opportunities to be together face-to-face. Moreover, our face-to-face times aren't wasted with wordiness, broadcasting information or polite chit-chat. Rather, face-to-face times are precious moments for getting things done, relating, and just having fun - and connecting.
In other words, my face-to-face contact with people is so much richer when we are also connected online.
Although I didn't put it this way over dinner to my friend, it's through having multi-modal, multi-disciplinary relationships across different professions in multiple communities that I find myself having more contact with people than I did when I was in a job where I encountered - face-to-face - many people to say hello and have lunch with.