Photo: Jonty Wareing via flickr
As virtual work spaces have become more prominent and centralized offices more obsolete, it’s become easier to pick up work as a contractor or freelancer. But Penelope Trunk, co-founder of Brazen Careerist — the entrepreneur’s third company — who lives in Wisconsin even though her company takes place in Washington, D.C., tells us that those who are entering the workforce shouldn’t choose to work from home quite yet.
This is because working isn’t just about finishing tasks and reaching your goals. It’s also about creating connections and maintaining your networks — much like how college wasn’t just about learning, but also about building relationships with your future colleagues.
For example, if you’ve been going into an office for years, creating relationships and close bonds, you’d likely have a list of contacts you could turn to for assistance if you ever do decide to work for yourself.
The idea is to do the office gig when you’re entering the workforce for the first time, and once you’ve built decent expertise, you can start working from anywhere you want.
“I worked for 15 years on site before I did this, because you can’t climb a ladder at a company virtually.”
In fact, Trunk says that funding for all three of her startups came mostly from people in the network she created when she had to regularly go into an office.
The entrepreneur also says that people typically won’t help someone else out unless they are — or have once been — close in proximity to them — and young workers need more experienced ones to take them “under their wings.”
“There are no superstars who don’t put in face time.”
“Everyone’s building their networks much faster than I,” Trunk says. “There’s an intimacy with face to face. People will talk to me, but it’s not as intimate.”
“Even five minutes of face time can make up for months and months of conversing online.”
Trunk compares building connections while you’re freelancing to “going to therapy virtually” — it’s possible, “but it doesn’t mean that it’s good.”
“We all take in a lot of nonverbal information when we’re communicating with someone. You turn yourself into an autistic person by not seeing them.”
A recent post at the Harvard Business Review says that in the absence of personal contact, people can get more brusque and less conscious of other’s needs — which means that if you’ve only had virtual contact with someone, you have to try even harder to create a meaningful connection with them.
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