Networking and community for the self-employed

When you’re self-employed, there are a variety of big potential benefits from joining or building social groups related to your work and personal interests. From a business perspective, you can find clients, collaborators, support, and advice. Spending time with family, friends, or other people can also help you avoid feeling isolated and lonely, encourage exercise and give you an opportunity to switch off from work.

How you choose to interact with people is entirely down to your personality and preferences. You can enjoy the benefits whether you prefer to mainly socialise online, or with a small group of people, rather than feeling you have to be at every single event in your area and chat with every attendee. But it’s important to make sure you commit some time to socialising, otherwise work can take over, leading to an increased risk of burnout and stress-related issues.

If there’s not a suitable community in your industry or local area, then that could be a great opportunity for you to build something which can bring a lot of personal satisfaction alongside potentially raising your profile and professional standing. 

To help you find ideas, inspiration, and advice, we’ve loosely grouped our networking and community guides into the three areas of business, personal benefits and starting your own community, but there’s plenty of crossover between each area.

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Community and networking for business

Many of the challenges facing the self-employed can be mitigated or removed by having a strong professional network to rely on. Good relationships with clients, suppliers and people in your industry will often lead to work opportunities including new projects, building awareness through public speaking, or discovering potential collaborators.

When you encounter a work-related problem, there is a lot of great information and support available (including the IPSE Advice section, or the tax and legal helplines for IPSE members). But it can be massively reassuring to hear from other freelancers and self-employed professionals who have successfully navigated similar situations. Or just to know you’re not the only person worried about a particular issue.

Whether you’re finding it difficult to get started networking, need help to find the right opportunities, or want to avoid any mishaps communicating online, you can find it here.

Key articles: 

Why is networking important when you’re self-employed

Networking can take many different forms, but the basic principle is fairly obvious. The more contacts you have in your area or industry, the greater chance that new opportunities and projects are likely to be mentioned to you.

Personal community and networking benefits

It’s not just your work that can benefit from interacting more with other people. Some of the common challenges facing the self-employed include loneliness and isolation, especially if you’re working predominantly from home. But it also allows you to actively choose groups and communities you want to engage with, rather than hoping random work colleagues might share your interests.

Every area throughout the UK will have groups around pretty much any hobby you can imagine, and most will be listed online. Also, there are usually a wider range of sports clubs in your neighbourhood than you might assume. 

It can be scary to turn up to a new community for the first time, but no more than starting a new job or meeting new colleagues. And learning new skills unrelated to your occupation can be a huge boost for your mental wellbeing. It can also prompt new ideas and creativity which can feed into your work.

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Key articles: 

Networking advice for self-employed introverts

Building up connections is an important part of running your own business. Our networking advice for self-employed introverts will help you build up new relationships in a much less stressful way.

How to meet new people when you work remotely

Becoming self-employed and working from home shouldn’t have to mean that you feel lonely or isolated. The first step is to commit to becoming more social, even if it feels a little uncomfortable at first.


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Starting your own community

There are a lot of reasons to consider starting your own community, whether to serve a purpose which isn’t currently being fulfilled, or simply to create your own space to pursue work or personal interests. Side projects may also benefit from becoming shared with likeminded people rather than being a solo endeavour.

You might want to set up a social enterprise, such as a charity, non-profit or community interest company, and bring people together to work for a shared benefit.

It might be easier than you think to get started building your own community, and it could grow far beyond your initial aims with the support of other people. Especially when the internet means you can attract help from around the world with a simple email or social media message. 

Key articles:

How to start a charity or non-profit business

Most guides on becoming self-employed focus on the choice between operating as a sole trader or limited company. But what if you’re aiming to build an organisation to help people and communities, benefit the environment, or support other worthwhile causes?

How to start a local business event or community

If you start a local business event or community and it becomes popular, you’ll have something that helps you stand out from similar freelancers and businesses, and which can even generate revenue itself.


Looking for more?

We have dedicated advice pages to help your physical and mental wellbeing whilst working from home but also on areas such as winning work or navigating the tax system. And to help and support you through all the challenges that can come with becoming self-employed, from chasing late payments to being able to work through power cuts and other emergencies.

View all advice pages



Physical wellbeing advice

Running a business, or freelancing and contracting for clients, can be busy, stressful and all-consuming, but Ignoring your health and wellbeing can have serious implications for you, and your business.


Mental wellbeing advice

We've put together a set of resources and guides to support positive mental wellbeing for the self-employed, combing our business knowledge with tips and advice from mental health and wellbeing experts.


Winning Work advice

Tips and advice to help you grow your business no matter what industry or sector you work in.