Being an entrepreneur can be exhilarating, but also isolating. This is particularly true if you’re running your business solo. If you’re willing to make a little effort though, there’s a thriving community out there waiting for you — both online and IRL. Read on for several great ways to grow your network. 

1. Get In the Public Square

Yes, it might be tempting to stay home in your bathrobe and work on graphics all week. But if you want to do effective networking, you’ll have to get out of your comfort zone. Write an article or blog post, and publish it. Agree to speak at an event or sit on a panel. Start a podcast, even if it’s a very simple one. Communicate publicly.

2. Meet Up With Others

Whether it’s a Facebook group, a gathering through Meetup or your local Rotary Club, there are many opportunities to find like-minded colleagues who understand and appreciate you. Keep an open mind as you try out these networking options. 

3. Join Professional Organizations

Most fields have professional organizations that are geared to your niche, or you might find your place in a more general group for small business owners and other types of entrepreneurs. Even if you have to pay a fee to join, the investment will be worth the contacts you make and the inspiration you gain.

4. Leverage Social Media

Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, and even TikTok have virtual networks that you can interact with. As you choose which one to use, focus on the platforms where you feel most comfortable. Online networking can develop into an in-person meeting if you prioritize engagement with your geographic area or attend an IRL event.

5. Interact With Your Local Business Community

Find a way to engage in your local business community. Even if you acquire most of your clients virtually, in-person contact will help you avoid loneliness and burnout. There are many ways to approach this; the more organically you do it, the better. Be sincerely interested in the people you meet. Even if they don’t become an immediate client or referral source, your relationship is still valuable. 

6. Serve Others

Building positive and strong connections has a lot to do with the value you provide. You might choose to be a mentor, deliver a webinar, or contribute services to a nonprofit organization. 

Effective networking requires creativity and a willingness to take risks. Keep these options in mind as you expand your connections.