Networking and word of mouth is often described as the best advertising money can’t buy. It’s also often described as the best advertising…period. Some entrepreneurs have found that their best advertising turns into another business.
Take Green Drinks, for example. Green Drinks is a social networking group that brings folks who enjoy a good adult beverage while talking about saving the planet together for a happy hour of sorts, except, with a theme. The evolution of Green Drinks, which now has chapters in over 40 countries, and almost a thousand cities, has brought it to the forefront of socializing and networking for the green community. Local organizers have begun to solicit donations from the community in exchange for being a ’sponsor’ of the event, and the items are then raffled off, giving promotion to the companies who donate as well as proceeds to the event. EcoTuesday, a growing social group that now has events in 7 cities, charges $10 if you RSVP, and $20 at the door if you don’t. It offers a simple format, a keynote speaker followed by a Q&A, as well as a round of introductions where each person gets 30 seconds to introduce themselves and their service or product.
Green realtors, loan specialists, marketing and PR folk, and others who rely heavily on networking for their new business, as well as job seekers in the green community have started to view these groups as a prime outlet for outreach. So much so, that the folks running these networking events have realized a market for the product, and have begun to charge. Albeit usually a nominal fee, it adds up when you have 150 people in the room. And who couldn’t use an extra $1500 per month for one night’s work?
Now sometimes the organizer has to pay for the space. There’s a microphone and sound system, and potentially other costs associated with a space. However, if the event is done on a slow night of the week (there’s probably a reason there’s no such networking event as EcoSaturday), and the bar/restaurant that is hosting can sell a few extra drinks and meals, it may be worth their while to not charge you for the space.
There’s the added bonus that if you’re the organizer, you are automatically self-promoted each time your email blast goes out to your whole listserv. But really, it’s all about the organic beer, and a very fun business to run if you’re a social person.
Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride. Find Scott on Google Plus
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