Are you feeling connected? Balanced? Or discombobulated?  As business owners and entrepreneurs, it’s so easy to get so caught up in the doing, that we forget about being. If you don’t step out of the trenches every now and again, you put yourself in danger of losing your perspective, and your sense of humour.

So, when you are supposed to be focusing on the business of running a business, how do you also broaden your network, gain perspective, get support, master skills, AND keep from going out of your mind with stress?

First I picked 5 traditional activities you might do to achieve some, or all, of these things.

  1. Attending industry events
  2. Contributing to online forums and social media
  3. Joining an accountability group
  4. Time with family and friends
  5. Taking part in sports or hobbies

Then I asked a bunch of business professionals from diverse backgrounds about which ones work best for them.

Here’s what they had to say:

1. The Business Transformation Director

Lisa’s response highlights the importance of keeping your professional and private persona somewhat separate, especially when you do high-profile work:

“As an interim, networking is key in securing that next elusive assignment. It’s important to stay visible and connected. My advice – make full use of social media to elevate your online presence and reach out to peers, clients and potential customers. Letting off steam is best done in the privacy of one’s inner circle of friends, not online – a long walk followed by a large glass of wine usually work for me.”

2. The Co-Owner of a Prop Hire and Event Design Consultancy

Graham is the go-to-man for creating themed events. He works in a fast-paced industry so his philosophy for success is to prioritise stress-relieving activities. According to Graham:

“Fishing and the outdoors remain the number one stress reliever for any business owner… It’s simple really, find a ‘you place’ that is inaccessible to the taxi industry. Leave all devices at home, including your wife and children. And if you feel you need to network, take along a fishing-friendly client. Now just add cold beer and stress become relative after all.”

3. The Director of a Sustainability Consultancy and NPO

Leif works at the coalface of social development, conducting research that shapes government policy.

“Events such as conferences are critical opportunities for us to showcase our work and demonstrate its value to a wider audience. [Social media forums] are far more valuable [for us] than an ordinary website which cannot really retain the visitor. That said, our website does get a lot of hits and those who really wish to engage in our work do so at far greater depth than in a social media forum. Friends are valuable sounding boards and create sometimes unexpected opportunities. They are also best for advice and debate, even when I know I am already right!

And if shaking it up in sustainability world and doing his bit for family isn’t enough, Leif also started a new sports craze in South Africa.

“Sport is critical to maintain in working life. But it is also the first thing that drops away when busy. I set up Fistball South Africa* as much to keep my workplace motivated (I press-ganged the office staff into playing every Friday) as myself. It has worked out amazingly well and brings out new aspects to people.”

 [*Note: Fistball is a sport which originated in Europe centuries ago.]

4. The Graphic Design Agency Owner

Cate juggles creative work and running her small business with the equally busy job of raising two small children:

“Finding time to network can be challenging but I try to attend industry events as much as possible – this is a good place to network, gain inspiration and learn from others. Most of my business mentoring comes from my husband, we use each other as sounding boards for all aspects of our business.”

Her approach to personal development and stress relief is all about finding the flow:

“I find a regular morning yoga session is essential to keep me balanced. A long walk on the beach gives me the most perspective. A surf in the cold Atlantic is perfect to give me clarity – there is nothing like an ice cream headache to clear the mind. To let off steam, well that’s easy … good food and wine with family and friends, with lots of laughter. Its important to not take yourself too seriously.”

5. The Content Marketing Enthusiast and Online Entrepreneur

That’s me :) My two cents based on my own experiences?

“I network in real life and on social media to stay connected with what’s happening in my industry. Social media is an integral part of what I do, and I find it can be a fantastic learning tool. I’m also part of a small but extremely supportive accountability group and this has helped enormously with staying focused on my business direction.  To disconnect I do yoga, spend time outdoors and hang out with family and friends (when possible). They provide advice, entertainment, opportunities for festivities, and keep my ego at a reasonable size.”

So which of these 5 opportunities do you find most useful for connecting, disconnecting and finding balance?

[Image Source: – “No Fishing” by Ciscopa]