Some people may complain about their co-workers, but having peers around who understand your job and its challenges can create a sense of camaraderie and community. As a content creator, however, you’re often working solo, in your own private space. Whom do you turn to when you’re in a creative rut, or looking for more information about a new platform — or just need someone to listen as you vent your frustration?

This is where being part of the creator community comes in handy. Fellow content creators are familiar with your struggles on a level that other people in your life — say, your best friend who works retail or your sibling who is a stay-at-home parent — might not be. A community of like-minded individuals can become a resource and a support system.

Make sure that you’re an active participant in all of the networking you do. Don’t only ask for advice; when you’re able, share your own thoughts and tips as well.

But how do you build this community? After all, it’s hard enough just making friends as an adult! Well, networking is more than a buzzword: it’s a crucial part of being a content creator. You have to put yourself out there and be open to others.

Attend Industry Events

Throughout the year, there are many industry events in different locations around the globe. While they can be costly, it’s absolutely worth it if you are able to attend. With daily mixers, nightly parties, and presentations in between, these events give you ample opportunity to make new contacts. You will meet other content creators, reps from various platforms and industry experts with plenty of knowledge to share.

Feeling shy at your first event? Various strategies can help get you off the sidelines and into the game. Set a goal of meeting five new people each hour. Review the schedule in advance to see what presentations are best suited to your interests, and be sure to attend those. Stick around afterward and introduce yourself to the hosts and panelists. Ask questions and pay attention to the answers. Make notes on any business cards you receive, or contacts you add to your phone, to help you remember the people you meet — and how you may be able to help each other in the future.

I also recommend making your own business cards. They don’t need to be fancy, but there are many template options online you can use to make one that is unique to you. Hand your card to your new contacts so they’ll know how to reach out to you. Make sure it includes an email address that you check regularly and a link to your official site or link aggregator, as well as a picture of yourself to help them remember you. I advise against putting your phone number on your business card, just in case one gets lost. At least with email, you have a layer of protection.

Fan events are another good place to do some outreach. Look up who else will be in attendance and make plans to introduce yourself to anyone with whom you hope to create a connection. If you’re signing at a booth, find out who will be around you. If you’re able to reach out to folks in advance, you can offer to meet up for a break and get in some quality time.

Join Group Chats

Several content creator and fan sites offer Telegram groups for support and outreach. Joining these groups is a good way to learn about platform changes and updates, plus gain insight into content and fan trends. Discovering that you’re not the only one for whom fan spending is down can help you think things through more clearly and determine whether you need to change your approach or just come up with specials to entice fans to spend a little during an economic crunch.

Social media is obviously crucial for promoting your brand, but it’s also a great way to connect with other content creators. DM peers whose work you admire or find inspirational, and let them know that! Ask them thoughtful questions — while being respectful of their time, of course — and be gracious about any help they’re able to give you. Just being able to talk with other content creators can make a difference in your work; no one knows what you’re going through as well as your peers.

Give as Much as You Take

Make sure that you’re an active participant in all of the networking you do. Don’t only ask for advice; when you’re able, share your own thoughts and tips as well. Look for opportunities to help someone who is in a situation you remember dealing with in your career. Think about things that would have helped you when you were starting out, and offer that wisdom to the next generation. Don’t look at each other as competition; you’re all in the trenches together. If one of you succeeds, that means others can too.

Leave a Lasting Impression

Most importantly, be confident and memorable. You want people to think, “Oh yay, an email from my new contact!” when they see your name pop up. Be personable, but don’t fake a joyous personality if that’s not you. Let people know you’re open to receiving help and giving help as well.

Creating authentic relationships with your contacts will broaden your horizons in ways you can’t do all by yourself. It takes work, as any relationship does, but the reward is worth it. Having a community of like-minded individuals, business contacts with experience and knowledge to share, and resources to turn to when you’re struggling is one of the most important parts of running your own successful business.