How To Keep From Becoming a Recluse (and Why)

shake hands.

I attended my very first Jersey Bloggers meetup just last week, along with my husband, who was attending as part of the Metro NJ PHP Meetup Group, and the Northern NJ MySQL Meetup Group. The three groups apparently rendezvous every month at a local Panera Bread.

I was eager to meet bloggers closer to home. I’ve been attending MediaBistro cocktail parties for years now, and when I had met up with the NY Bloggers Meetup Group, I had met a lot of great people, and even scored a paying gig through one of my new acquaintances!

My NJ meetup, however, ended up being far different from what I had expected.

Aside from the lack of free booze, the group that came together at Panera Bread was much smaller than the one I had experienced in NY, and they were less interested in socializing than they were in problem-solving. It made me consider the fact that events such as these can have multiple purposes:

Networking. It’s helpful even when you’re not looking for a full-time job. Actually, it’s probably even more helpful when you’re singlehandedly promoting your own business, seeking out new clients, open to other paying gigs on the side, etc. If media and publishing aren’t your milieu, groups such Networking for Professionals regularly throw networking events for a general professional crowd. And of course, you can always seek out professional organizations in your field. Many of them throw annual or biannual conferences, in addition to networking events.

Troubleshooting. Odd that it had never before occurred to me but, as evidences at my NJ meetup, gatherings among a group of professionals can be helpful for problem-solving and tip-sharing as well. As one group of techies and bloggers discussed Twitter and SEO, an online marketing consultant taught me a bit about customizing my blog template (a mystery to me…). Have a business-related query and no experts to turn to? An event such as this can be a godsend.

Connecting. As a blogger, I’m endlessly fascinated with Internet interactivity, and I’m always eager to take that connection I’ve made online and bring it to the real world. I don’t want to hear my hubby talk web coding and, similarly, he’s uninterested in my forays into Flickr and other sources of stock photography. Wouldn’t you be relieved to finally be among people who understand your obsessions?

Socializing. This is related to “connecting,” except I’d like to point out one additional thing: You’re a freelancer now. When’s the last time you put on pants before 1 p.m.? When’s the last time you used deodorant? Was your last intense conversation with your cat?

gizmo and michael

He’s charming, but dude. You need to get out of the house.

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