I have written about this subject before, and it continues to be a relevant subject – networking is a business basic. If you are a business owner, you need to engage in face to face networking. The opportunities are endless if you do some sleuthing. Meetup groups can be easily overlooked. The most obvious choice is Meetup groups made up of business owners. If you do a simple search on Meetup for Small Business, a ton of groups will show up. Look at the members of each group until you find a good fit. Also, look for groups involved with hobbies or sports that interest you. Trust me, if you attend one of these group meetings people will be talking about what they do for a living. You will be taking the time to develop an outside interest, and you can talk to others about your business.
Business Before Hours and Business After Hours events are extremely popular for the small business owner. They can range from totally free events, to a modest fee, to a membership fee. The Loveland Business Development Center (LBDC) does a few of these events during the year, which are free and open to the public. The LBDC recently held a BBH event that was very well attended. The LBDC will be holding another BBH event in October.
The LBDC has quite a few free Lunch n’ Learn events throughout the year. This is another easy way to network. The next Lunch n’ Learn event is Time Management and Productivity on Tuesday, August 29th from noon to 1:30 pm. Ariana Friedlander is the presenter for this workshop. Check out other LBDC events at www.lovelandbusiness.com (Workshops & Events tab).
The Larimer SBDC program offers free industry specific BAH events at their center in Fort Collins. They have two interesting BAH events coming up. The first event is a Health & Wellness Panel on Strategic Partnerships. It is scheduled for Tuesday, August 8th from 4 pm to 6 pm. The second event is Building Vibrant Artist Communities: Resources and Tools to Support Creatives. This event is scheduled for Tuesday, September 12th from 4 pm to 6 pm.
These events are quite popular and fill up quickly; it is best to register early. Remember to have your business cards on hand if you attend the events. They aren’t always specifically noted as networking events, but they certainly lend themselves to networking opportunities.
Local Chamber of Commerce programs have monthly BAH events. While you should attend these for sure, other Chamber events should be explored – lunch n’ learn events, ribbon cuttings, Business Before Hours events, plus volunteering for Chamber sponsored events, etc. The Loveland Chamber of Commerce also has a young professionals group, STIR, which is a great entry for young people to get involved in the Chamber. Chamber of Commerce programs are membership based and would need to be included in your annual marketing budget. Attending chamber events should be a high priority if this is one of the avenues you choose for networking. You aren’t going to get the full value if you don’t show up for events.
It isn’t too difficult to find networking events, the trick is to make time to attend.