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Networking for the Self Employed

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 19 Dec 2013 | comments*Discuss
Self-employed Tax Freelance Companies

Self-employed people face a host of problems that those who have bosses never see. That’s why networking can be so important for them, giving them, among other things, a chance to mix with peers and discover solutions for those particular problems.

The Problems Of Self-Employment

So what sets the self-employed apart from other workers? Why would they even need their own networking events? What do the self-employed need that they can’t find mingling elsewhere?

Many self-employed people work in small companies or entirely alone. Socially, and also in several other ways, it’s the isolation that can be hardest for the self-employed especially for those who work at home. A chance to get out, have a meal or even a cup of coffee with people in the same situation can be a huge psychological boost.

Important as that side of things is, there are other, more practical things to be gained from the self-employed networking. Tax issues are always a bugbear, so advice about dealing with them can make a huge difference in the long run, as can other monetary and legal issues connected to self-employment.

How The Self-Employed Network

Networking for the self-employed can range from the wildly informal – a few people meeting up for a coffee and a chat – to the kind of highly organised events that often prove so popular in all fields.

There are advantages to both, and different things to be taken from them. Inevitably the organised events will give much more information on topics and be set out to offer people the greatest chance of meeting others.

However, you’ll find that there are also organised sub-networks within the self-employed ranks, such as one for women, another for self-employed mothers, and so on. Whilst that can be seen as splitting an already small pie, there’s logic behind it, since each of these groups face their own particular problems and coming together with others in the same boat can help them find a solution, and also explore other areas that might arise and are peculiar to their situation.

Of course, there’s also online networking, through forums and sites that cater specifically to the self-employed. Although some of the problems faced by self-employed people are national (such as taxes), plenty are global, which is where the Internet can be so useful, connecting the self-employed from all over the world in a way that would be impossible otherwise.

Using Networks to Build Your Business
No matter how big or how small, there’s excellent value in all these networks, creating connections that can brings benefits in all manner of different ways. As the number of self-employed people grows, networking becomes ever more important to help everyone take on the pressing issues. Locally you may find that joining local business associations will find you contacts useful for your business, or enable you to participate in local functions and raise your profile. If your service or product offering is complementary to others in your area you can also benefit from mutual referrals gleaned as a result of business or social networking. If you check out your local authority, town council or parish council website, you'll find details of any local business associations and also social organisations like the Rotary club, Round Table etc.

With no major national body to speak for the self-employed, they remain at a disadvantage. Although networking can’t represent them in any official manner, it can give them a chance to understand that they’re not alone, to make contacts, and to have a greater chance of overcoming the problems they all face on a daily basis.

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