Associations and trade organizations are great places to meet individuals. Usually organizations have a common theme, and it is an understood implication that all members participate to improve themselves and their businesses.
Whether it is a chamber of commerce or a trade association, members have common problems, issues and concerns. By sharing issues and resolutions, members can benefit by the experience of others. Many business owners participate in organizations, not only to network, but also to hopefully circumvent some of the pitfalls encountered by other small businesses--learning from others.