Making friends in this day and age is quite a challenge. Even if you are an outgoing extrovert and enjoy being in social situations, the opportunity to find those situations has become more difficult. It is easy to scroll through videos on your Instagram feed, or watch entertaining clips on YouTube instead of going out.
Touring musicians are finding it incredibly difficult to make a living these days because people don’t attend live events the way they did a decade or two ago. It is much easier, more cost-efficient, and less of a hassle to watch your favorite band playing on your phone than it is to go to the club where you might have to buy a ticket, pay for parking, buy drinks, or spend money on merchandise.
Because social media has become such a powerful component in our culture, people simply aren’t going out as often as they once did. Even the restaurant business has been hurt by this trend, especially with the rise of meal delivery services like Uber Eats. Something simple like “going out to dinner,” in the traditional sense of the word, is not done now as much as it was in years past.
This filters down to interpersonal relationships as well. It is much easier and convenient for people to interact through devices on social media than it is to maintain friendships in real life. There are certain segments of the population and certain interest groups where the emphasis on real-world learning has never wavered, but those are the exceptions to the rule. Unless you volunteer at a soup kitchen or play in a weekend summer softball league, the ability to take your socializing out of the digital realm isn’t easy.
As writers, we’re considered creatives—people who spend large amounts of time on our own during the workday. Because we spend so much time alone, we don’t have an incentive to then go out into the real world after work and foster relationships. Whether you’re a shy writer or consider yourself an introvert, it can be much easier to stay in your writing cave and not develop friendships in the real world.
That is not to say that friendships developed on social media or through the Internet are not as valid, deep, or personal as real-life friendships. I’ve developed many friendships over the years—some of those friends have become my business partners—that began with email or Twitter. If my business relationships had been dependent on starting them in the real world, I would probably not have any business partners today.
However, the relationships that combine an aspect of the real and digital world can be some of the most important ones we develop in this day and age. Many of my online friends and I have subsequently met in real life, and therefore, going back and interacting with them on a digital platform feels almost as good as sitting down and having coffee with them in real life.
The problem is that fostering these types of relationships rests solely on the shoulders of the person who desires them. If you are not inclined to go out of your way to start friendships, doing so only through a screen or social media profile can be an even bigger challenge.
Mastermind groups can serve as a bridge between relationships developed online, and those fostered in the real world. Years ago, when I attended my first mastermind group, I quickly began to identify the people within that group with whom I shared common values or ideas, and naturally, we began to interact more. And even though this was not an option in that particular mastermind group, I had arranged to meet several of these people in real life when our travel schedules aligned.
In more recent mastermind groups and in the ones I facilitate, I make sure there is a real-world event tied into the ethos of the mastermind. Even though my mastermind group meets using a video call platform weekly, I offer an annual gathering which is free of charge to anyone who has been in the mastermind group during that calendar year. The idea is to foster and deepen those relationships that started simply through the video call and bring those into the real world.
There is something intangible and impossible to quantify about gathering with like-minded people in the same physical location. I have seen this in the retreats that I offer and the conferences that I host. Looking someone in the eye across the table while talking to them cannot be replicated in any digital format, and so, the opportunity is there to make that kind of connection in a mastermind group.
Most mastermind groups do not start as a group of friends. In fact, I don’t think that’s a good way to start a group because there is too much emotional baggage involved when trying to provide honest and critical feedback. But if the relationships start in a mastermind group, there is no reason why friendships cannot blossom into something more long-term and meaningful.
I have encouraged members of my mastermind group to work with each other, write books together, create marketing programs together, and certainly to become friends. If the opportunity is there to meet up in real life, it is possible to take those friendships to the next level.
If the size of the mastermind group is small, and the sessions happen on a regular basis, it is not only encouraged, but sometimes inevitable that people will develop friendships from that group that they could not have started in the real world, even if those friendships move off of the digital platform and into real life. I have maintained friendships from other mastermind groups I’ve participated in that began five or even ten years ago, and I still communicate with those people to this day. It is hard to underestimate the power of friendship in this journey of becoming a career author.
It is also hard to underestimate how much fun it is to be a career author.
Want to take your writing chops and business savvy to the next level? Check out The Author Success Mastermind group at https://theauthorsuccessmastermind.com/join/