Do Your Friends “Get” What You Do?

If you’re like me, none of your friends work for themselves or work out of their houses. Nor do they use social media to connect. It’s lonely, even when I’m with my closest friends. Somehow, gushing about the new client I’m managing social media for doesn’t seem interesting on “wine night” with the girls. I’m not even sure they know what I do, really.

wine night

Can you relate?

Even though there are millions of small business owners, we seem to be like atoms in a giant globe; we don’t bounce off of each other (in person, in my life, anyway) as much as I’d like. Still, I get my dose of connecting with like-minded business owners in other places.

On Twitter, I follow what other entrepreneurs are doing. I can see what Entrepreneur Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief @EntMagazineAmy is up to, take a break by reading one of @GuyKawasaki’s off-the-wall posts, get news from @smallbusiness or simply share links and shoot the breeze with some of the dozens of small biz owners I’ve met at events.

On Facebook, I see what’s hot on BizSugar and leave comments on posts. I share my blog posts, as well as others I’ve read, and usually get some dialogue started with my biz buddies.

On LinkedIn, I see who has posted new content on the Marketing 2.0 Experts group I started. I also provide answers to questions. This often leads me to new connections.

I read blogs, I comment on them, I connect with people who seem like me and whom I can learn from. So, even if I don’t see these people every day (or even ever), I feel connected to my small business community. And that’s what matters.

How do you connect? Do you have people in your “real life” who are business owners, or do you find your connections online like me?

Image from Oleksa/Shutterstock


Susan Payton Susan Payton is the Communications Manager for the Small Business Trends Awards programs. She is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in content marketing, social media management and press releases. She is also the Founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners who want to generate their own PR.

19 Reactions
  1. Dave Kaufman - Techlife

    Great article, especially the first paragraph which nailed the problem clearly.

    I use that the cocktail party analogy when explaining social media to folks. “You wouldn’t walk into a cocktail party and blurt out what your specials are, or a great win you had without first meeting the folks and listening to them.”

    In the same way, the wine party friends likely understand Facebook and use it. So the next step is to share with them, how a new client didn’t use Facebook before and is now, with your help, going to spare the world from committing the faux pas of blasting out their specials. All thanks to you.

    I find people thanking me for stopping, YAFS, Yet Another Facbeook Spammer.

  2. Regina Ciardiello

    I do agree about the part where friends sometimes don’t “get” what I do. When you say you “work from home,” I think people think that gives me the freedom to go out for 2 hour lunches and chit chat on the phone with friends, when indeed I am actually working!

  3. Great article Susan – I can totally relate to your article. That said most of my family and friends still don’t get marketing…

    Although I meet up regularly with other entrepreneurs, most of my connections are online – but I don’t I love it?! In fact if it wasn’t for social networks Ohh la la may not still be in business. Thanks to social media the business has found the energy and opportunities required to go through the most challenging economic climate.

    The amount of support, new business opportunities and giggles available online is just tremendous. And it’s so much quicker too than trying to meet up with the right people.

    Whilst I love meeting people face to face, I am having a great time engaging with people online. I wouldn’t change it for the world 🙂

  4. I also work from home and rely on social media for marketing my fully phone-based service. My work often feels like a double-whammy when it comes to friends not understanding what I do. Not only do most of them not relate to the challenges of working from home, they don’t understand the services I provide. From the outside, that scenario must look pretty confusing!

    I’m thankful for my Twitter and Facebook friends for both keeping me company during the day and for helping to promote my services.

    Thanks for writing an article that so many of us can relate to. We do need to reach out and develop our own supportive community so at least somebody gets what we’re all about!

  5. My friends definitely don’t fully understand what I do, but I’ve found that attending conferences helps me meet a lot of like-minded individuals in person. I actually had a chance to say hello to Anita Campbell when she was in Salt Lake City recently for a Touchpoint conference.

  6. My friends and family don’t get it. They see that I have my head buried in my laptop all the time and wonder what are you doing everyday – all day.

    Great article,

  7. That’s a good question. From what I can gather, there are many business owners with ‘less than traditional’ types of service that have the same issue. Since I am a 10 year old start up now, my plan is, at some point soon, to share my company’s value proposition with my facebook network. It’s not to sell mind you, but merely brag, which i believe is acceptable web social behavior right?

  8. Since the recession started many of my friends have started small businesses.

    Of all the networks that make the most impact, Twitter is the far the most effective.

    Others are fine too, eg FB, but work better once you’re established.

  9. Susan: I do both. I like talk about social media, small business and drinking wine in a social setting at the same time! 🙂

    On October 28, we will have a workshop on geolocation services at Social Media Club in Gothenburg, Sweden. You meet people from all walks of life at this kind of event.

    Robert: I look forward to the day when I will have the opportunity to meed Anita in person. We have been online friends for many years! 🙂

  10. You nailed it! I’m not even sure my husband understands what I do. Since we run our business out of our homes, my partner and I spend a majority of the day chatting about breaking news via Facebook. Like you, I spend a lot of time connecting through Twitter and LinkedIn and scouring the news for relevant information for my clients.

    It’s so nice to be understood… Glad I’m not alone!

  11. Wow! You guys really resonated with this one. So many of us feel a bit isolated in the real world with what we do, and have to seek out likeminded people. I don’t know; maybe it’s the same if you’re a teacher, a doctor, an engineer. Not sure.

    At least we have each other!

  12. Susan, it still amazes me how a wall of silence would hit someone when I try to explain what social media is all about ( and that I’m an enthusiast ). To think that we should feel more connected because of these online platforms makes me think there’s a fallacy to that thinking; perhaps, nothing still beats good ol’ human interaction in the real world..? I guess, if ever I’m feeling isolated, all I have to do is sign on Twitter and chat with like minds; makes you feel like you’re part of an exclusive crowd.

  13. Thanks for this, Susan. The more untraditional work we pursue, the less-likely the people around us are going to understand it. But even so, I doubt our family and friends EVER knew what we did at work even back in the days we worked in conventional settings for companies people had heard of. Our career peers have always been elsewhere. With the rise of the social web, we’ve got more opportunities than ever to connect and grow our enterprises with their support.

    As a 15-year expat much of the disconnect you refer to has been heightened in my own life and career by cultural differences and geography/timezones, and led to the work-life initiative I recently launched to provide practical support for global citizens.

    Happy to share your post with my community on FB and Twitter — the issues are the same!

  14. I saw a shirt on-line that says “No One Cares About Your Blog.” It’s true. My friends and family listen politely about my latest plugin or getting a 50 cent click and say “That’s great.” But they don’t get the excitement, the challenge, the joy of blogging. It’s okay. There are bloggers on-line who “get it.”

  15. Wow Susan, this is SO true! I even find it hard sometimes to talk to my own spouse about what’s going on in my business. And it’s not so much that she doesn’t always “get it” (though sometimes she doesn’t.) It’s that she – to a point – doesn’t really care to talk about it. For me, it’s the “big thing” going on in my life that has a strong influence on what happens each and every day.

    Therefore, I want to talk about it as much as possible! Share stories of triumphs, seek advice when I’m facing a tough issue, learn how someone else is doing it differently, and even just connecting and talking about being a business owner are very important topics that I want to discuss daily.

    Unfortunately, I’m the first small business owner in my family. So they do not really understand. I have maybe a few “close” friends who have their own business and we get together to talk and a few more acquaintances who have their own business. But in reality, I feel alone.

    Funny enough, a few of us have gotten together talking about this and have planned an online community just for us… a place for small business owners to connect, share, get/give advice, and support one another! I won’t pitch it here, but maybe it will help us out one day soon to not feel so lonely!

  16. @Brian–
    I just found this video from Lisa Barone, and I think it’s appropriate (even though it’s specific to explaining to your parents what you do):