After a recession-related lull, new green businesses seem to be popping up like May flowers -- many started up by eco-minded women. If you're a green entrepreneur who wants to meet, network, and market to fellow eco-businesspeople in your neighborhood -- but just don't seem to run into the right people at business mixers, block out Tues., May 25 for an EcoTuesday event near you.
EcoTuesday, a monthly green business networking event, happens on the fourth Tuesday of each month in 10 different cities across the U.S. The events started back in 2007, with L.A. chapter events starting in March 2008. But last Tuesday was the first time I finally had a chance to stop by one. About 20 people -- an unusually small crowd, I hear, due to the many Earth Month events that happened the weekend before -- met up on the second floor of a Santa Monica bar called West 4th/Jane to drink organic beer, nibble on farmers market salads, and make green business connections.
Unlike most networking events, where people simply mingle loosely over drinks and nibbles, EcoTueday events have a more formalized structure. After a little schmoozing at the beginning, attendees quiet down and briefly introduce themselves -- letting everyone else know what green field they're in and what projects they're working on -- before a speaker gives a short talk on a green business topic. Post-talk, there's more mingling -- when the now-introduced attendees can make a beeline to meet the person offering a service or good -- whether it's PR help, website design, green consulting, or organic cotton tote bags -- her new business needs.
The speaker at L.A.'s EcoTuesday was Dan Thompsen of The Building Doctors, a company that helps makes homes more energy efficient. He gave a quick presentation on how to save money on our home energy bills, and then the real mingling began. I met Kacy Palmeri, a woman who organizes Santa Monica's popular Earth Day on the Promenade, learned about the California Clean Innovation Conference happening at UCLA next week, and shook hands with a number of people in consulting, investment, and PR and marketing.
Jennifer Gooding (above), the "Ambassador" for the EcoTuesday events in L.A., said she started organizing these events because she loved the intimate feel and community around EcoTuesday. "People really bond here. It's not the typical L.A., in-and-out event," says Gooding, who credits EcoTuesday for finally making L.A. feel like home to her -- after living in the city for 10 years. "Truly, becoming part of the environmental community is one of the most self-loving things you can do."
Apparently, that community is what's attractive to the EcoTuesday crowd, which Jennifer says has grown more this year than previously -- though I have a sense this may also be due to the fact the events stopped charging for admission in 2010. This year, Jennifer's hoping to hold the events a variety of venues to explore different areas of Los Angeles.
Find EcoTuesday events at Berkeley, Cleveland, Dallas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Silicon Valley, and South East Michigan/Detroit. Don't see one in your town? Start one! As long as you RSVP online before the event, admission's free. So plan ahead, save the date, and head over on the second Tuesday of the month with a stack of business cards in hand.
>> Angelique Van Engelen at TriplePundit names EcoTuesday one of the Top 5 Green Marketing Events.
>> Stephanie at Peachy Green says EcoTuesday "is a real call to all green business owners and entrepreneurs. Networking has never been this much fun –- or helpful."
>> "Schmooze or lose," says Sierra Club's The Green Life blog about EcoTuesday and Green Drinks: "Good ideas flow along with organic merlot at these get-togethers."
BlogHer Contributing Editor Siel also blogs at greenLAgirl.com.
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