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  • Melanie Pena

Identifying Networking Opportunities in your Community

It can be difficult to find your place and community when first starting a business or entering a new market. In fact, many businesses struggle with finding the right networking events or people to talk to. However, these networking opportunities are crucial to a successful business. They allow you to grow your audience through collaborations and shoutouts as well as find a group that you can lean on for advice or guidance.


Here are some tools to help you identify these communities and opportunities:


The Power of Social Media


While social media can seem like a trivial or even annoying part of growing your business, in today’s day and age, it’s become fundamental, especially in Gainesville. There are events constantly happening in Gainesville and if you don’t stay active on social media, they’ll pass you by in the blink of an eye. There are many film festivals, music festivals, swap meets, and vintage or food markets that occur every semester. Follow the accounts that post about these events to keep up to date with everything happening.


Some accounts I recommend are:

@papospopshop

@thebigbigswapmeet

@the.how.bazar

@thefloridavintagemarket

@startgnv


You can also find local businesses online that relate to your product or brand and see what they’re doing for inspiration. For example, if you started an artisanal soap company, then think about following some local candle companies and see what events they’re going to. The same people that will buy candles at local farmer’s markets will probably be interested in soap.


Take Advantage of LinkedIn


This may come as a shock, but LinkedIn is for more than just bragging about your latest accomplishments. You can follow local companies and even Gainesville organizations to keep up with what they’re doing. You should also reach out to businesses that interest you or that you think could offer you some interesting insight. There’s no harm in shooting them a message, worst case scenario they don't respond. The best-case scenario could lead to an interesting conversation and networking moment.


Find Entrepreneurial Organizations and Clubs


Another powerful resource is your local entrepreneurial organizations; find these clubs and communities and reach out to them. These organizations are literally made for networking and brainstorming. This also opens up the possibility of finding a mentor or someone you can go to for advice. This community will also be another way to keep up with local events and opportunities in Gainesville because people will share what they’re doing.


Career Fairs


There are hundreds of young talented people in Gainesville. The University of Florida hosts career fairs often to expose these young people to local businesses and careers. A good way to get to know the businesses in the area and meet new people is by participating in a career fair. There’s always the possibility of meeting future employees, clients, or partnerships.


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