When I first went freelance, I immediately decided to join my local Chamber of Commerce. At the new member orientation, I was approached by a woman who invited me to visit her BNI group. I visited twice and decided that this group would also allow me to develop relationships with other professionals, so I joined. I'm still very active in both groups as an Ambassador for the Chamber and President of my BNI group.
I've attended several other organized groups, and if I could join them all, I would. But most require dues and of course, time. Because both are limited, I've had to shy away from other potential sources of networking, referrals, etc. I did, however, recently decide to take part in a small start-up group in town for home-based business owners. We had our second meeting today--I believe this will be an excellent resource not just for making business contacts, but as a support group for other people who work at home.
We face a lot of the same issues. Nobody tells us to be at work at a certain time. We can work in our pajamas if we want. These may sound like perks (and indeed they are), but think about it...it's easy to sleep in until noon and not get dressed or showered all day. But that's not very conducive to keeping a business running, so you have to make yourself adhere to some sort of discipline. And you have to do it alone, usually. This support group will address issues that we, as home-based biz owners, face. We'll talk about what works for us and what doesn't, how we overcome challenges and how we manage to wear the many hats that sole proprietors often do.
I think it'll be a good thing for all of us.