Local Business Networking Capitol Hill Style


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Today I attended the CHAMPS Links Lunch, which is a local small business networking group that meets once per month at a local restaurant. They meet to network and discuss the challenges that local small businesses face. As a ‘solopreneur’ writer who spends the majority of her time in the house in front of the laptop, this was a fabulous opportunity to get out and mingle with other small business people.

Washington, D.C. might appear to be a big city from the outside, but you don’t live here very long before you discover that it is a city of several distinct neighborhoods. I live near the Capitol Hill neighborhood. I lived ‘on the Hill,’ when we first moved here, but I have since moved just a few blocks away, and over a bridge that is a dividing line, which in many ways, can be compared to a ‘Berlin Wall’ of sorts in this city.

Washington, D.C. is made up of distinctive neighborhoods, and Capitol Hill is one of the most close-knit, exclusive, ‘clickish’ neighborhoods in the city, and I love it. It is very much like a small town in the shadow of the larger city. I have learned that many of the small businesses in Capitol Hill are very insular and they tend to be a bit leery of outsiders at first. But once you’ve been around for awhile and they get to know you they are wonderful, warm people who are willing to be supportive.

I want to feel more apart of this vibrant community, so I decided that it was time to get out of the house, come from behind my laptop and mingle with some real people for awhile. My typical workday consists of writing and marketing, talking to clients on Skype, emailing other clients and marketing my blogs and my clients’ sites. I would love to be able to offer my services to some of the small local businesses, who are riding out this recession just like the rest of us, and might benefit from getting increased exposure online.

At Today’s CHAMP meeting, I met a health & fitness instructor, two financial planners, a wardrobe stylist, an attorney, a local ISP, an acupuncturist, and an ad executive. We had lively discussions about how one might get their foot in the door in the Capitol Hill business community, the advantages of owning your blog verses starting out on a free platform such as Blogger. We talked about how to leverage Linkedin as a way to make connections and reach the right people, and, of course, we discussed the vagaries of Twitter and how you can use it along with blogging to get your message out and gain exposure.

I plan to join CHAMPS and participate in more of their activities because it’s just a great way to meet other local business people. Another unanticipated bonus was that I got so many article ideas from that meeting my mind is fairly bursting right now.

Bottom line–local networking is a good thing. My recommendation is that you should look up your local small business networking organization and attend a meeting. Join your local Chamber of Commerce and get involved locally. It’s an opportunity for you to contribute your knowledge, meet other local business people and learn a thing or two in the bargain.

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