This week we are talking about the best avenues for getting plugged into your local business community.

What’s up Fish Fans! My name is Marcus. You’re watching Marketing Madness, the Blue Fish vlog!

This week we are staying local with our tips and resources. A few weeks ago I was speaking at a Chamber event and someone came up to me afterward and asked: “What are the best avenues for getting plugged into the local business community?” The person asking the question had just moved to Mobile from outside of the area and was struggling to get a foothold in the Mobile Business Community.

This is not the first time I’ve been asked this question. With so many options out there like the Chamber of Commerce, Civic Clubs, Non-profits, and independent networking groups like BNI… How do you decide what is best for you? Well, the truth is I can’t answer that for you. Making that decision is dependent on the type of business you represent and, quite honestly, your personality.

However, I am extremely active in the business community and want to share where I have found value. I hope that you hear something in this video that connects with you.

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. But I know that for many people it means getting out of your comfort zone, putting yourself out there, and trying to build relationships with strangers.

I know because I was in that boat. Want to know a secret? Most of the people that attend networking events feel the same way. Some of 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 that 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.

Let's talk about where and how to get plugged in.

The first place I would start would be your local chamber. I love being a member of the Chamber of Commerce. We have 2 in our area that Blue Fish is a member of, the Eastern Shore Chamber and Mobile Chamber. Each Chamber offers plenty of opportunities to get involved. Ambassador programs, monthly coffee networking meetings, Young Professional Meetups, and Business After Hours just to name a few. 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. You'll need to join a committee or volunteer at some events. Serving is a great way to meet people. Go in with a positive attitude 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 their website. Jump in feet first, if you are local contact Dawn with Mobile, or Casey with Eastern Shore Chamber and they will fill you in on how to get involved.

Next up would be Facebook. Search out the events tab and look for local professional meetups. Nearly all events these days have an event page on Facebook. So if it is happening, you can bet, it most likely is on Facebook.

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.

Then we have independent networking events. Jared belongs 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 making the sales cycle a bit easier.

With the right attitude and an optimistic approach, you can build valuable relationships in the business community. Any seasoned business professional will tell you that relationships are the most important asset to their business success. Just go out with the purpose of making a few new friends.

Well, that’s a wrap for this week! I want to thank you for checking in. Make sure to hit that like button. And if you have any questions or comments leave them down below. If you want to talk about how Blue Fish can help you grow your business just send us a message and we’ll get the conversation started!