RHEN: What’s up Fish Fans! This is Marcus, I’m Rhen, and you’re watching Marketing Madness, the Blue Fish weekly vlog! Our goal is to address common questions that business owners may have about marketing and advertising.

MARCUS: This week we are staying local with our tips and resources. Last week I spoke at an event for the Mobile Chamber of Commerce. One of the questions I received as part of my question and answer was “what are the best avenues for getting plugged into the local business community”. The person asking the question had just moved here from outside of the area and was struggling to get a foothold in the Mobile Business Community. This is not the first time we’ve been asked this question. With so many options out there like the Chamber of Commerce, Civic Clubs, Non-profits, and independant networking groups… How do you decide what is best for you…? Well the truth is we can’t answer that for you as a lot of that is dependent on the type of business you represent and your personality. However, we are extremely active in the business community, and today we will share where we have found value and some different ways we have connected with business owners. Our hopes are that you will hear something in this that connects with you.

RHEN: Before we jump into the things you can do to get plugged-in, I want to talk about the most important aspect, your mental perspective on networking. Networking can and should be one of your most powerful tool used to gain new business for your company. Networking involves the going out and meeting new people. It means getting out of your comfort zone, putting yourself out there, and trying to build relationships with strangers. For most, this can be terrifying. This was especially the case for me. When I was young in my career, heck even up to about a year ago, I was terrified of going to events like this where I did not know anyone and walking up to strangers to start conversations. But what I learned is that everyone at these events is in the same boat. Everyone has some of the same insecurities and fears that you have. Re-adjust your perspective and just go to these events expecting to make new friends. This is where I have actually had the most success, in friendship and in business. 

MARCUS: I totally agree with Rhen, by nature I’m an introvert. I use to hate going to networking events. I’d go and either flock to a group of people I knew, or if I knew my wingman was not going to be there I would make some excuse to not go. However, once I understood the value and put myself out there I really started to get some traction and it became easier and easier. On top of this, the relationships I have created have been priceless to me personally. In fact, one of my very best friends, Abe Harper and I were introduced at a networking event. Abe’s friendship is so important to me personally I couldn't imagine not having met him. And to think I could have missed out on that if I would have avoided this particular event. So now that we have your mind right about networking and getting plugged in, let’s dive right into where and how to go about doing so. 

RHEN: The first place I would start would be Facebook. Search out the events tab and look for local professional meet ups. Nearly all events these days have an event page on Facebook. So if it is happening, you can bet, it most likely is on FB. Some local networking events that I know are on Facebook right now; Midtown Social Club, Young Professional Networking Events, and many more… Most of the time these type events are either free to attend of just a few bucks.

MARCUS:  We love being members of the Chamber of Commerce. There are actually 2 in our area that Blue Fish is a member of, the Eastern Shore Chamber and Mobile Chamber. Each Chamber offers plenty of opportunity to get involved. They offer an ambassador program at each which Rhen loves being a part of, monthly coffee networking meetings, Young Professional Meet-ups, and Business After Hours! All of these are great opportunities to meet people just like yourself trying to build their network. Like anything, with a chamber membership, only expect to get out what you put in. I would encourage you to look for ways to get involved. Join a committee or volunteer at some events. Civic service is a great way to meet people. Go in with a positive attitude and and willingness to be a part of something larger than yourself will put you on the road to success. The chambers usually have a great calendar of events on each website with great opportunities there as well. Jump in feet first, contact Dawn with Mobile, or Casey with ES and they will fill you in on how to get involved. 

RHEN: Next, I’d highly recommend finding a non-profit you are passionate about and getting involved. This could mean coming on as a board member, or simply just volunteering. I sit on the Board of the Family Center of Mobile & Baldwin Counties. Our mission is child abuse prevention and strong fatherhood. I have made some great connections from sitting on this board, not to mention some great friends. All while serving a bigger cause. The benefits from this are incredible from a personal and business face. 

MARCUS: Next up we have independent networking events. Both Rhen and Jared belong to some of these groups in the local area. This is a great way to create referral partners and pass business back and forth. Meeting weekly or bi-weekly helps you build familiarity with those other group members and stay top of mind. Referrals come with a personal recommendation so there is trust already built and sometimes you can bypass this stage in the sales cycle. A healthy stream of referrals can really move the needle on for your business. 

RHEN: With the right attitude and an optimistic approach you guys can really get out there and start building invaluable relationships in the community. Over a lifetime these relationships will prove to be your best asset.

MARCUS: The biggest tip we can give you is to go out with the purpose of helping others and making friends. People can sense when you're only interested in them for the betterment of your own circumstance. You need to be genuinely interested in creating relationships from non monetary reasons which is why you need to be selective in where you get involved. Selecting something you are passionate about will give you something that you share with others in the group. Once you take on this mindset you’ll be amazed and what starts to happen in your life.

RHEN: That’s a wrap for this week Fish Fans. Thank you for your attention. If you have any questions or comments leave them down below. If you want to talk about how Blue Fish can help you dominate your market Call us!