It is almost impossible to be a good critic to yourself. I've told clients this and been frustrated when they couldn't see that they aren't their target market. The problem is, when you're in the fish bowl, you think everyone else is too. I recently discovered that I am a fish ["Hello, my name is Megan and I am a fish." Everyone says: "Hello Megan."]
The 4 Step Plan to Beating Sick Depressed Fish Color & Decaying Fins
1. Twitter: I know everyone tells you to use twitter but I want you to use Twitter to actually meet people in the flesh. There are Tweet-Ups going on in almost every city but if your city doesn't have one, start one. You can use Twitter Grader to find and follow the top people in your city. You can also just use the Twitter Find People and type in your city. Lots of Tweets in your town will use a handle that has the city name in it.
By meeting these people, you will build a community which you can bounce ideas off of. Also this is a great way to get additional clients. You never now who might need your services. Above all, getting out of the house for a cocktail once in a while is good for you!
2. Join an industry related group: I have a marketing group and a monthly Ladies of Search lunch that I attend locally. I found out about the marketing group on Meetup and the Ladies of Search lunch through an old co-worker/Facebook page. I am also a member of SEMpdx. I do have to travel all the way to Portland to attend these events but I can't tell you how worth-it it is! SEMpdx allows me to network and build relationships with a bigger audience. Once a year they also have a fabulous one day conference that even the smallest of businesses can afford. SearchFest brings big names in the SEO industry to boot, like: Danny Sullivan, Rand Fishkin, Vanessa Fox, Heather Lloyd-Martin, Adam Audette and the list goes on and on!
3. Conferences: If you can afford to go to conferences, I highly recommend them. In the SEO industry, there are many fabulous ones to choose from. The reasons they are so important:
A. Every so often you need the water in your tank cleaned. New ideas, new life blood is good for your system.
B. Getting into a bigger tank as you grow is important. You'll get introduced to more fish and be a happy.
4. Ask for feedback: I know this is a tough thing to do but I swear it won't hurt that bad. I just did it myself and I feel so much better. Feedback is like GOLD people. So break down your walls of defense and ask for other people's opinions.
I know there are so many more ways for people to get out of their fish bowls. I hope that you'll leave your favorite tips in the comments!