An office setting gives you a readily available network. You can speak with people in your field who comprehend what you’re experiencing every day and will support you as you progress in your professional life. These networking chances are present whether through work events, conferences, or business trips.

Self-employed individuals have a more difficult time networking since they don’t frequently interact with people in their field. They instead must take the initiative to go out and meet these connections as well as figuring out how to create and maintain a relationship.

Keep reading if you’re self-employed and finding it difficult to network with others in your field. We have some tips to help kickstart the process!

Use Social Media to Your Advantage

If you have a professional social media account (or more) for your business but only use it to interact with customers and promote your products, you’re not doing yourself or your business any favors.

Social media is a space where you will find other entrepreneurs, people in your industry, and potential mentors who can offer help and advice.

If you only use social media to post about your business, you’re missing out on valuable opportunities. Participate in Twitter chats and comment on related Facebook posts to get noticed by other professionals in your industry. You can also send someone a pin that relates to their interests or share an interesting blog post with them via LinkedIn. Business accounts aren’t just for selling–they’re also for expanding your network and growing professionally.

[Related: 7 Ways To Build an Unstoppable Personal Brand in 2017]

Join an In-Person Community

If your only community is online, you’ll probably feel lonely at some point. (And may never change out of your pajamas.) To avoid this, try to become involved in an offline community as well.

By joining or starting a community, you can find other like-minded business owners to connect with near you. There are many websites that make this easy, like Meetup. If you’re self-employed and disabled, the Self-Employment Resource Network provides community support and networking opportunities specifically for people in your situation. You could also join your local Chamber of Commerce which typically has events geared toward the self-employed demographic.

Get the most out of your community memberships by attending events, introducing yourself, and being interactive. You’ll be surprised how quickly personal connections can positively impact your business.

Form a Group to Hold Each Other Accountable

If you have a business role model or two that you really look up to, it might be beneficial for you to form a weekly accountability group. This way, you’ll always have somebody to seek advice from or talk shop with – and no, your best friend or pet doesn’t count.

An accountability group could be as simple as a weekly email thread between friends or a private Facebook group. You can update the other members on your week’s successes, goals, and questions, or check in regularly for advice and feedback. Whatever form it takes, an accountability group provides you with an opportunity to connect more personally with people who understand your situation and can help ensure that you stay on track to reach your goals while also providing support for them.

Identify businesses whose products or services complement your own

Odds are, if you’re a web designer, your clients will also need a copywriter or social media strategist. If you have a clothing boutique, your customers are probably going to look for shoes and accessories elsewhere.

Developing a relationship with other business owners in your field is one of the most helpful types of networking. You can learn from each other, offer advice and support, and help grow each other’s businesses. This type of networking is mutually beneficial: you can refer clients to each other, promote each others’ services, and collaborate on marketing initiatives. Having a supportive community of fellow business owners not only makes you feel good, but it also boosts the value of your business.

This article was originally published on GOGIRL Finance. More by GOGIRL Finance on Levo:

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7 Ways To Look Like You’re the CEO, Even When You’re Not

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