4 Professional Networks to Break Into

  •    Danielle is a freelance writer with bylines in Teen Vogue, Esquire, Vice, and more and runs a blog, The Millennial Freelancer.

As a solopreneur, networking is incredibly important. You likely aren't in a traditional office environment and instead, work from home. Maybe sometimes it's from the coffeeshop around the corner.

It's always a good idea to get out and meet new people. Fortunately, there are quite a few professional networks to break into to help you become more engaged with the surrounding community. Here are four to find and check out in your city.

1. Coworking spaces

While everyone goes to a coworking space to work, that's not the primary reason why. These spaces not only provide you a consistent place outside of your home office to work from, but a community of people that would otherwise be working from home as well. They provide opportunities for you to get to know and network with other professionals living in the same area.

Oftentimes, coworking spaces organize and host networking events, such as happy hours and holiday parties, to help members mingle outside of business hours. Be sure to take advantage of those opportunities.

Depending on where you're located, you may have a lot of different spaces to choose from. Some popular spaces with several locations in the United States include The Yard and WeWork. Additionally, international memberships like Copass give you access to a network of hundreds of spaces all over the world to cowork from, which helps if you're constantly traveling.

2. Local small business administration

The Small Business Association is a government agency that provides support to small business owners with regional locations all over the country. Local offices not only provide loans, offer grants and teach trainings, but also organize opportunities for small business owners to network with each other.

Additionally, these offices also oversee Women's Business Centers, to help women grow their businesses. If you're a woman entrepreneur, this is a great way to meet other successful women leaders in the surrounding business community.

3. Young professional associations

Most major cities have a specific business association catered to young professionals, such as the Young Professional Network of Miami and Emerging Professionals of Portland. Young professional associations plan networking events as well provide development opportunities. This resource is especially crucial if you've lived in a city for less than a few years.

Look for different types of entrepreneur-minded networks outside of those for young people. Many have different missions that fall under different causes, such as the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia and the Women's Business Network in Pittsburgh. You can use MeetUp to find a local community for young professionals in your area.

4. Makerspaces

Makerspaces are in a similar vein to coworking spaces, but are more hands-on. Sometimes referred to as hackerspaces, they are DIY community centers with tools, including but not limited to 3D printers, laser cutters, sewing machines and other types of manufacturing equipment. These tools can be useful if your business can utilize them, but if not, it's an opportunity to hone a new skill or hobby while meeting new people along the way.

They also foster a collaborative environment to help creatives learn, create, invent and share. Oftentimes, makerspaces will offer workshops and classes to teach a specific skill, led by an expert. If your industry involves a skill taught at a makerspace, you can offer to lead a class, workshop or other type of educational event.

While many of these spaces are often in academic settings, there are organizations with physical locations in major cities, such as NYC Resistor in Brooklyn and Pumping Station: One in Chicago. When you're a solopreneur, especially if you work from home, it's easy to isolate yourself. Networking is a great way to get out into your community. Whether it's a coworking space, local small business administration, young professional association or makerspace, you're guaranteed to meet other professionals doing inspiring work.