6 Great Jacksonville Networking Groups to Inspire and Energize You

Mar 02, 2015 - Joe Matar
Networking can be worth so much more than making a sale or landing a new job. n addition to advancing your career or building your business, the right networking group can help you become more involved in your community through volunteering and community service projects. Networking can also help you stay up-to-date with changes in your industry and your local economy, broaden your social circle, and find mentorship opportunities. Networking is what you make of it, and Jacksonville has plenty of great groups out there that could be the right fit for you. Grab a stack of business cards and get out there! (Click here to tweet this list of groups.)

1. Interchanges Wednesdays

With evening events held at amazing locations including Echo & Rig Steakhouse, Epping Forest Yacht Club and Ponte Vedra Lodge, Interchanges draws serious crowds of professionals to their namesake Wednesday networking get-togethers. Each month’s gathering spotlights a different local charity or non-profit, allowing attendees to learn more about their mission and to offer support through direct donations, volunteer opportunities and raffle tickets. The monthly functions are free to attend and often bring in more than a hundred business owners and networkers from a huge range of industries and job functions. If you’re looking for a no-cost, low-commitment way to develop new connections in the Jacksonville area, you can’t do much better than Interchanges Wednesdays.

2. American Marketing Association Jacksonville Chapter

Marketers by nature are curious, creative types -- and they often know how to throw a great party. If you’re a current or aspiring marketer, membership in the Jacksonville chapter of the American Marketing Association can introduce you to a huge group of interesting people and help you stay up to date in an industry that is constantly evolving. Annual dues are $250, with discounted rates for students and recent graduates. In addition to discounted admission at monthly educational and networking events, JAMA members receive access to educational materials from the American Marketing association, a complimentary subscription to the Jacksonville Business Journal and several other discounts.

3. PRO-NET Jacksonville

If you’re looking for the most bang for your networking buck, PRO-NET Jacksonville is where it’s at. This “No Rules” group boasts hundreds of members and five different weekly locations for breakfast meetings. Members and guests are encouraged to attend any location they like, so no matter where you go you’ll find familiar faces and new people to meet. Membership costs only $5 per month and allows you to attend any and all meetings you choose for just $5 per meeting. PRO-NET Jacksonville holds meetings from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. in several locations: Tuesdays at Black Finn Grille in Towncenter and TGIFridays in the Orange Park Mall; Wednesdays at the Mandarin Ale House in Mandarin; Thursdays at St. Johns Golf & Country Club in South Jax; and Fridays at Salt Life Food Shack in Jacksonville Beach.

4. Jacksonville’s Entrepreneur Group

Aimed at business owners and entrepreneurs -- who are always some of the busiest people around -- Jacksonville’s Entrepreneur Group offers a unique twist on a networking group. Instead of forcing people to add yet another weekly or monthly commitment to their schedule, the group points members towards some of the best no-obligation networking events going on every month. Jacksonville’s Entrepreneur Group works in conjunction with Mix It Up Networking to help members break out of their networking ruts. Some events, like Mix It Up’s speed networking events, occurs on a regular basis, but the calendar of events offers something new for everyone, including happy hours, craft shows, real estate seminars, wine tastings and other great events to get you out of your comfort zone and in front of some new connections. Membership in the group is free, with varying costs for events on the group’s calendar.

5. Jacksonville Network After Work

Network After Work hosts some of the best-attended networking events in every city they’re in (currently more than 40), and the Jacksonville chapter is no exception. If you want to know where to network in Jacksonville, this is a great place to get started. Events draw large crowds, but the gorgeous venues and casual atmosphere keep the event from feeling intimidating. There’s no ongoing membership cost to attend Jacksonville Network After Work events -- just a $12 fee for each meeting when paid in advance, $20 at the door of the event or $15 at the door with pre-registration. The group holds events once every month, typically toward the end of the month, and they run from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. All events include light appetizers from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., as well as a free cocktail before 7 p.m.

6. Jacksonville Online Marketing for Businesses and Entrepreneurs

Their name might be a mouthful, but that doesn’t stop the Jacksonville Online Marketing for Businesses and Entrepreneurs group from drawing in a crowd. These information-packed meetings often bring in close to 50 attendee who are all looking to meet, mingle, and learn everything there is to know about online marketing. Previous topics included video marketing strategies, SEO trends for 2015, local marketing integration and defining your marketing process. JOMM meets on the second Tuesday of each month from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., often at CoWork Jax (but occasionally at venues like Sidecar or DiscoverTec). Most events cost $10 per person, and annual membership rates are $100 per person or $50 for students. Shelby Blanchard Stogner is a freelance copywriter and blogger who helps businesses get the word out about the great work they're doing. Visit her on the web at www.sbscopywriting.com for marketing tips and advice on how your business can benefit from zombies.