Sometimes we can’t see the forest through the trees. We overlook the obvious and make things hard on ourselves. We reinvent the wheel. Fly across the country to make new business contacts. Why don’t we harvest the fruit in our own backyard?
This week’s Rainmaker is about making local connections.
Even if your business isn’t tied to your current location – which is awesome in its own right – there may be uncovered treasure in your local market to tap into. I’m referring to local scholars and professors, consultants, executives and business owners within an hour from where you live.
Connecting with these professionals may gain you access to an entirely new level of connections. So, how do you go about meeting these local treasures?
First, I recommend you join Meetup.com and find local networking groups and events. By using the search function, you can look up professional events and groups in your geographical area. By joining a specific group, you can also check out the online profiles of current members and even connect with them online before attending a live event. That way, you have a friend in waiting when you’re ready to explore!
Next, check out EventBrite.com and search for your location. You’ll find business events, workshops, large conferences as well as fun activities like local 5K running events. It’s a great tool to keep tabs on what’s going on in your neighborhood or other areas or communities that you’re interested in. Unlike Meetup, EventBrite lets you connect with event coordinators only, not other participants.
Two other great sources for local networking events and opportunities are local colleges and universities. You can extend that as well to include your local Chamber of Commerce, professional organizations with business workshops and one of my favorites, listings in your city’s Business Journal – a goldmine of information, leads and opportunities.
Lastly, networking at Costco is a ‘secret weapon’ for those of us in-the-know. Many local Costcos offer a free, monthly networking opportunity in their warehouse with breakfast included. It’s a great place to meet other likeminded local small business owners – even if it’s just for a coffee.
What do you do with these connections? My #1 recommendation is to follow up on LinkedIn once you’ve met in person to continue the conversations online, or make a date for coffee.
A small coffee shop works best for me, with a choice of bold brew. You?