It really does not matter what your business is, if you are isolated, you will not be as close to industry changes as you would be by being associated with industry trade groups. I have a number of associations that I am affiliated with, which allows me to find out what is going on locally and nationally. It has allowed me to build friendships and renew old acquaintances. You never know when you will experience a life change. When you do, you want to be ready for it.
Belonging to 2 Mortgage Bankers Associations has allowed me to make friends in NH & VT. I have been able to refer customers there and have received referrals. I can gauge what is happening throughout a broader area. And via those associations, I hear from the national association as well. I also get correspondence through memberships in NRMLA and NAIPC as well with regard to reverse mortgage issues. And affilations with local Realtor boards keep me in touch with the local markets, too.
If you are isolated, you can be paddling upstream. I urge you to get involved with your local association. This is different than simply 'being a member' you will note. What is important is not who you know, but who knows YOU. And that is the importance of trade groups.