home entrepreneurs networking outreach tips guidesDespite the fervent hopes of daydreaming office drones, working from home is not all sunshine and roses. Business writer Joyce M. Rosenberg singles out four key cons for companies considering staffing up their remote, at-home workforces: the potential for culture clash, low morale, mismatched “fit” and lost spontaneity.

Entrepreneurs who operate their own businesses out of their own home offices may add other drawbacks to this list — notably, lack of socialization. Even if you’re remotely managing a team of contractors from afar, with all the professional contact that requires, you may be missing out on the face-to-face human contact that inevitably occurs in a traditional workplace.

So, should you call it quits and slink back to your last employer? Absolutely not. Instead, try these five networking and outreach tips for at-home entrepreneurs.

Get a Part-Time Co-working Membership

Yes, it’s an added expense, but it may just make all the difference for your business and mental health. Co-working puts you in contact with a slew of professional services providers, remote workers, and entrepreneurs with whom you’d otherwise never have contact. Indeed, co-working gives new meaning to the term “captive audience” — some of these individuals and entities could well become paying clients of yours.

Choose an Opportunity That Gets You Out Into the Community

What if your core business was by nature social? That’s the case for fundraising distributors, who sell high-profit fundraising products to charities, school groups, and other nonprofit organizations in their communities. Leaders at ABC Fundraising tell us that fundraising distributors working at home full-time can earn anywhere from $500 to $5,000 per month while connecting with those who do good in their communities.

Find a Favorite Coffee Shop and Hold Court

Rather than Skyping or calling clients just down the street, find a central location and hold court there. Coffee shops work well; they’re not expensive to loiter in, and you’ll find a table if you arrive early enough. Consider holding standard “office hours” each week, the more predictable for your clients and vendors.

Join Local Entrepreneur Networks

Join or create local networks for at-home and independent entrepreneurs. Perhaps you’ll meet at the same coffee shop where you hold court, or maybe you’ll get together weekly or monthly at a brewery or wine bar. The details don’t matter; what’s important is the connections and opportunities that naturally arise when creatives gather.

Attend Professional Development Events (even If They’re Not Required)

If you hold a professional license, you may have no choice but to invest in continuing education; your career may literally depend on it. Even if this isn’t the case, consider attending the occasional seminar or conference to keep your skills fresh and your professional network strong.

Stay Social at Home

As you can see, new at-home entrepreneurs absolutely can maintain the socialization to which they’ve become accustomed in the traditional workplace.

On the other hand, plenty of at-home entrepreneurs make the switch precisely because they’re fed up with office culture, or aren’t particularly social creatures.

That’s fine — the beauty of the modern economy is the growing opportunity it offers those who prefer to keep to themselves. Wherever you happen to fall on the extrovert-introvert spectrum, opportunity awaits. It’s time for you to seize it.

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