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Working for yourself is great, but at some point you’re going to miss the chance to talk to people who understand what you’re going through. If you don’t have a community to commiserate with occasionally, you can start feeling alone in your ventures.

While it may seem a little strange, you actually want to hang out with your competitors. Why in the world would you ever want to do that? Because, more than anyone else, they understand what we go through everyday. In the end, making nice with your colleagues can help spur friendly competition and keep everybody sane.

Not sure how to go about getting everybody together? Here are some ideas.

Networking Events

You want to keep it mostly business which is only natural. After all, you’re not in this to make a bunch of best friends. You simply want to help grow your business and the industry, all the while keeping your head in a good place so you don’t end up spending your work hours with imaginary friends Fred and Bob.

Networking events are the perfect solution for this. You can either put together a mass event where everyone meets each other or have a focused event with speakers. Either way, it lets you have a fun event that still keeps everything in a business environment.

If you do hire speakers, ask the community which topics they really want to learn about. This way you’ll have a better turn-out rate plus the event has a better chance of fulfilling its purpose – to educate your colleagues and grow your industry.

Fun Times

Most business owners know that it’s easy to get tired of working 24/7 and need to take a break. The problem is you just don’t know how! You spend so much time behind your desk or laptop you can barely remember what having fun is like, much less how to do it.

Well, now’s your chance. You have a whole community full of people to give you ideas. There’s bound to be a common interest in the group as to what everyone wants to do. It could be something like a bowling league or a monthly poker tournament, or even a hiking enthusiast club.

If you can’t seem to find any real common ground, figure out a schedule where you do different things every week or month. If you really can’t come together and figure it out, hire an outside company to throw events for you.

Share Resources

If you’re far, far from your colleagues try to let off some steam online. A friend of mine ran a “Group Therapy” Tweet chat for professional writers. Another runs a closed Facebook group that allows her colleagues to network and solve professional problems.

They also… share leads.

Wait, why would you do that? The goal for the community is to grow the whole industry, no matter how global or local your own business is. The best way to do that is trust in your new colleagues so everyone can grow together. Sharing resources, including leads, can be one of the best ways to get everyone on the same page.

Are you actively involved in a community of your colleagues? Or are you going it alone?