The best people to get advice from happen to be your peers. But sometimes, especially if you work from home, it can be difficult to locate the right people if you don’t know where to start. Thankfully the best place to start is right on your computer.
1. Meetup.com – This is a website that specializes in helping you organize or find like-minded people locally with whom to associate. Start by setting up a targeted profile. Once you’re done with your profile, do a search on groups that you might want to join using keywords that fit your niche. Remember that you’re looking for peers and not mentors as you search. Join groups that look interesting and useful.
2. Facebook Groups – There are literally thousands of groups on Facebook that might be useful to you to find peers. You’ll need a Facebook account in order to search for groups. Simply type in to the search box any keyword that will help you search for your peers. If you’re looking for virtual assistants, type that phrase in, then instead of going for the first thing you see, click “See More Results” – now you can look at people, pages, groups and so forth to find just the right groups to join.
3. LinkedIn Groups – First create an awesome profile with a great business-oriented headshot. Then look under Interests on the menu, click Groups, then click “Find a Group” or even “Create a Group” to make your own. If you click “Find a Group,” type in a search word or topic into the search window that pops up. Some groups require approval, some do not. Look through the groups and choose the most relevant.
4. Industry Events – Every industry has events, live and online. The best way to find an event for any industry is to use a Google Search to find “events about xyz”. You can include location information or not. Visit popular blogs about your industry as well; usually they are prime advertising space for events in that area. You can also look at the Eventbrite blog to search events.
5. The Chamber of Commerce – More than likely there is someone who is in your industry attending your local chamber of commerce events. If you work from home it might be more difficult, but you’re in a prime position to take leadership in this area to attract more people like you so that you can get to know your peers and get involved.
6. Business Associations – Pretty much any business has an association, including one for the self-employed. NASE is a professional membership for people who work for themselves, and through them you can find more specific organizations to join. You can also search Google for associations with keywords popular in your industry.
7. Alumni Organizations – Did you go to school or get certified in anything? If so, it’s possible that you already have a waiting group of peers with whom to network and learn from. There are organizations for all kinds of professions; one only needs to search for five minutes to find several.
8. Volunteer Organizations – If you don’t volunteer for anything yet, it’s highly recommended that you find a way to give back. Through many volunteer associations you can find peers that will stick with you through thick and thin, to advice you, and to share knowledge with over the years.
Finally, don’t forget the people you already know. If you’re not sure about the existence of a group, just ask. Use social media, mastermind groups, forums and so forth to simply put the question out there about groups and organizations you can join, with peers that you can relate to and learn from. There are, more than likely, several right under your nose.