One of my favorite things to do is meetup and mingle with other photographers. Everyone has their own view on life, their own perspective on gear, and I find it fascinating to talk with other photographers about these things. A great place to find groups in your local area is meetup.com
I first discovered meetup.com about a year ago when I was first looking to meet and network with other photographers. I ended up at meetup.com because I was looking for photo groups and meetup is one of the leading web services for all sorts of group meetups, not just photography.
The reason I feel that meetups are so important is that it gives you a chance to talk shop with other photographers, ask questions about things that you may not be familiar with, or share knowledge about something you just discovered. It is one of the best places to go to find firsthand knowledge on photography.
I recently attended a meetup for local photographers and I had a blast. There were models there and photographers, and we were all talking and learning from each other. It was a great experience and I highly recommend that any new photographers looking to network head over to meetup.com and look for photography related groups in your area. It really is a great way to grow and learn from others, as well as make connections to other photographers in the area.