A study by The Co-op and the British Red Cross reveals over 9 million people in the UK across all adult ages – more than the population of London – are either always or often lonely.
Research commissioned by Eden Project initiative The Big Lunch found that disconnected communities could be costing the UK economy £32 billion every year.
Many people have a fear of networking; of being plunged into a room full of backs and cold shoulders, having to wheedle your way into a conversation only to be greeted by blank stares or disinterest. But when you crack the method, it is a great way to meet random people who you might never otherwise come across. And as we know from the statistics, loneliness is becoming an epidemic. Not only that, loneliness is bad for you health, being worse than smoking 15 cigarettes a day, making you more likely to suffer from depression, heart disease and dementia and causing you to be 29% more likely to die prematurely. That’s a lot of reasons to get out of your comfort zone and into a place of connection and compatibility. So if sociability doesn’t come easily, how do you persuade yourself to stick your head out of your shell, and find friendship, a sense of belonging and a life buzzing with relationships of all kinds? How, indeed do you find your tribe?
Well it can take a bit of trial and error. I’ve been to a number of networking groups over the years. Some hit the spot; others aren’t for me. You’ll find that. But you do have to get out there, try them and then follow up on the ones that make you feel like you fit. If you are an entrepreneur, small business, freelancer or between jobs, it can be a lonely feeling, working away on your own trying to make a success of it, but when you meet others who are in the same boat, you can share your ups and downs, your triumphs through adversity, your experiences and your learnings.
So once you get to an event, and you enter the room, go get your coffee. Others will do the same so use it as a chance to chat. Yesterday I went to an event for entrepreneurs at the House of Lords hosted by F:Entrepreneurs, and as I queued for tea and cake I got chatting to a woman who seemed to be on her own. She bakes bread. She has a passion for bread and has built her business around bread. I asked her how she started and she said her kids were leaving home and she had to think of something to fill the gap. Bread did the trick. When my kids left I’d felt the same thing, and filled the loneliness with my passion and through that found my purpose. And so there was the connection; a moment of mutual understanding on our different roads. I met a woman who, in three years had done with sauces what Covent Garden had done with soups, another who had a first class, single brew coffee shop in Belfast but whose dream is to build a coffee plantation in Brazil employing only women, and I met a young woman whose disability had stopped her getting work and so she’d started a dog grooming parlour. She now has seven tables in her shop, that are busy dawn until dusk and she’s booked up until August. It’s now March.
I was shy growing up, but I love people and their stories, and I don’t get to hear them unless I act on my curiosity, seek out people in the room who are looking a little lost or lonely and ask them about what makes them fizz. It’s not been easy for me; I’m a natural introvert, but I’ve discovered the delights of connecting, and now, I’m never lonely. There are always people to follow up with, other groups to go to, and through my work I have found my tribe. Friendship is the foundation for a happy life, and nurturing it is as important in keeping your body healthy, your mind strong and your heart full.
Brave New You TRIBE are partnering with the innovative co-working business ZONE so you can work alongside, meet & connect with like-minded entrepreneurs, small business owners, start-up founders, freelancers, self-employed, creatives and free-spirits. TRIBE will also be running monthly meet-ups in these co-working spaces so keep an eye-out for news on that!
“ZONE offer a flexible co-working membership at a fraction of the price of existing work spaces, allowing people to work for free within a network of high end restaurants, bars and hotels. 100 memberships are being handed to friends and family at 75% off, for life!” First come first served, use the referral code TRIBE to be put on the Launch waiting list HERE