As a natural introvert, I have always sought solo activities over group projects. The “I can do it all by myself” mentality is probably what got me into freelancing, but freelancing set me free from it.

I started out in the real estate industry with the assumption that it would be a lone-wolf kind of job. Turns out, like most freelance gigs, it was really just about who you know. A friend’s referral may be more intangible than data points on a resume, but the former carries more weight. I’ve gained most of my business from my network.

Although an online presence is very important, real estate agents in my sector find about 61% of clients from referrals. A referral confers trust – and with each new client, that trust has a ripple effect. I started to find that perhaps maybe I wasn't such an introverted guy after all.

I derived so much satisfaction from my network as a real estate agent, I wanted to build more community into my career. That's why I cofounded a coworking space in Miami. Once a lone wolf, now it’s my job to help people out of their shells. I’m still a little surprised at the turn of fortune, but life found a way to challenge me and I’m grateful for the experience.

When we first started the coworking community, we had a beautiful space but no members. Our first paying member came to see the space after hearing about it through a friend. He didn’t join right away, but after we met, I referred him to a friend of mine for a gig. Eventually, he joined the space and became a valuable member who has hired people within the community as his business has grown.

The co-working space hasn’t just been a business venture for me though, in many ways it’s also a calling. Being part of a diverse community space filled with people of different backgrounds and expertise is an incredible life and business perk.

So, when the Freelancer’s Union local representatives contacted me asking to let them use our space once a month for SPARK, I immediately said yes. Freelancers Union is aligned with our own mission to connect people and help freelancers work better together. A rich community network yields a wealthy life – I should know.

I used to be a guy who thought that being on my own was the way to go, but my journey as an independent worker cracked my life open and what flooded in was a wellspring of community, opportunity, and fulfillment. If you’re just starting out in your freelance career, or still spend most of it behind a screen, I encourage you to let the light in. Go to your local Spark, meetups and networking events, talk to people just to get to know them, as people, not to sell your business, and have patience. The power of personal relationships and community will unfold into a world of opportunities opening around you.

Simon Añez is the Cofounder of CityDesk, a collaborative coworking space in Miami. He's been in the Real Estate Industry for +5 years and loves connecting people to create meaningful relationships.