Note: This was a post from last August. I’m repeating it because we all need to be reminded of this simple fact.
Like millions of people, I tuned in for the Beatles Tribute on CBS. It was a lovely evening, but it wasn’t anything like my evening attending a Paul McCartney concert several years ago. That experience was magical from beginning to end.

You probably have memories like that, too, when you found yourself in the same room with someone you’d admired from afar. That is not an experience that can be duplicated by technology.

As much as I appreciate the gifts of technology, I often wonder if we’re forgetting how powerful it is to have real contact.

Back in the nineties, the independent adult ed movement began to take off all around the country. The timing was perfect for me as I was beginning to teach my seminars on creative self-employment.

These programs filled a real gap, making it possible for busy adults to spend a few hours—rather than committing every Tuesday night for six weeks—gaining some useful information and ideas.I loved the programs because most of them were small businesses run by a tiny staff that usually included the owner. I also loved the people these programs attracted—curious lifelong learners who were equally excited to have this option to explore new ideas.

Sadly, these programs began to disappear. Sometimes the overhead was too high for the income being generated. A few owners tried to cut their costs by moving their catalogs online, instead of spending thousands on the print catalogs.

That didn’t work very well, either, and I think I know why. Catalogs are for browsing and often deliver unexpected prizes. Hmmm…making a living without a job? Wonder what that’s about. Think I’ll sign up and check it out.

With online catalogs, you pretty much need to know what you’re looking for in advance.

But that’s not the only reason I feel sad that these programs didn’t survive. We lost something really valuable, something that happens when we make the effort to put ourselves in a room with others exploring the same subject.

There’s another dimension added to our learning when it’s gotten person-to-person. We might even make a new friend, have an insight, get a question answered that only happens through personal connection.

Or as C.S. Lewis so eloquently pointed out, “Good things as well as bad are caught by a kind of infection. If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire; if you want to get wet you must get into the water. If you want joy, peace eternal life, you must get close to, or even into the thing that has them….They are a great fountain of energy and beauty spurting up at the very center of reality. If you are close to it, the spray will wet you ; if you are not, you will remain dry.”

Fans of Prairie Home Companion know that they’ll be catching up with the wandering Dusty and Lefty on the weekly skit called Lives of the Cowboys. Since Dusty is a rough-and-tumble cowboy and Lefty is his sensitive sidekick, the somewhat unlikely pals are often at odds about how to handle tricky situations they encounter out on the trail.

Dusty and Lefty aren’t the only ones who need pals, of course. Even the most independent self-bossers discover that an entrepreneurial friend or two can be a valuable asset—in more ways than one.

When I started my first business, I made some attempts at connecting with other businessowners. I attended a workshop sponsored by SCORE, checked out my local Chamber of Commerce. Neither felt like a fit for me and I gave up my search for entrepreneurial buddies.

What a mistake that was. In my determination to be independent, I made things far more difficult for myself than necessary.

I can pinpoint the moment when my business went from frustrating to flourishing. That moment occurred when Chris Utterback and I became friends.

Chris and I  became sounding boards, idea-generators and co-conspirators as our friendship grew. Even though we both left Colorado shortly after we me, we were diligent about connecting frequently.

Quite simply, we need to have entrepreneurial friends if we’re putting ourselves in the Innovative Minority. Finding kindred spirits is an on-g0ing part of the Joyfully Jobless Journey.

When the homebased business movement began to grow, numerous attempts to create both local and national organizations began to pop up, but most of them disappeared rather quickly.

It appeared that folks who’d left corporate life were not interested in hooking up with another large organization. This new breed of entrepreneur was not about to conduct business as usual.

However, the need to connect with other self-employed people didn’t disappear, it did, however, seem to take a different form as entrepreneurs built friendships that were fewer, but richer.

Author Jess Lair once wrote, “All of us need four or five people who’s faces light up when we walk in the room.” That sounds like a description of the new Joyfully Jobless mini-tribes.

New entrepreneurs are often stumped about how to connect with other creative self-bossers since years spent in the job force has kept them away from those who are self-employed. Then there’s the uncertainty, the fear that a successful entrepreneur won’t want to be bothered hanging out with a newcomer.

When I hear such concerns, I point out that our entrepreneurial circle needs to include people at all stages of growth.

What matters most is that our relationships, include what Stewart Emery calls “a balance of contribution.” That’s a slightly more elegant description of what is commonly referred to as a win-win.

Building those relationships, reaching out, connecting, takes time, of course, but most importantly, it takes a willingness. Remind yourself that your life will be richer for these new friends.

Or remind yourself of this observation from C.S. Lewis: “Good things as well as bad are caught by a kind of infection. If you want to get warm you must stand by the fire; if you want to get wet you must get into the water.

“If you want joy, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them. They are a great fountain of energy and beauty. If you are close to it, the spray will wet you; if you are not, you will remain dry.”

If you need some suggestions for hunting down the self-employed, check out my article, A Field Guide to Genus Entrepreneurus. It’s a helpful list of the natural habitats of these elusive creatures.