Networking in Memphis: 8 Rockin’ Groups for Meeting Other Professionals

Apr 02, 2015 - Joe Matar
Networking in Memphis, Tennessee, the birthplace of rock and roll, is more about heart and soul than about passing out business cards. And there’s no better way to get ahead than to get out in the city and get connected. Memphis is the largest city on the Mississippi River, making it a prime spot for business during the riverboat days of yore. Now, major companies like FedEx call it home. Making your way in Memphis is a lot easier with a strong network of friends, colleagues, and industry contacts. Whether you’re new to the city or a Memphis native, these eight groups offer something for everyone to love. (Click here to tweet this list of Memphis-based groups.)

1. Startup Grind Memphis

Memphis loves startups. Startup Grind’s Memphis chapter offers opportunities for entrepreneurs who think big: big speakers, big ideas, and so on. Past speakers have included Kim Heathcott of Clarion Security, James Ruffer of PAAY, Jerome Hardaway from Frago, and a LiveStream meeting with Guy Kawasaki (most recently of Canva). Meetings include time for open networking, a light meal, and a fireside chat with the guest speaker about topics of relevance to entrepreneurs and startups. Tickets are $10 in advance or $20 at the door. The meetings do not have a set date each month, but are typically held on a weekday evening beginning at 6:30 p.m.

2. The Financial Executives Networking Group -- Memphis Chapter

For Memphis-area financial professionals who are looking for a new position, have suffered a job loss, or are just looking to meet others in finance, The Financial Executives Networking Group is a great match. Because the FENG focuses exclusively on job search and networking for people in the financial industry, they are able to deliver very targeted referrals and leads. Meetings are generally held on the third Wednesday of the month from 7:00 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. at the Germantown Community Library. There is no cost to attend, but attendees are encouraged to bring plenty of business cards and referrals for other members.

3. The Networking Roundtable

Part networking group, part support group, the Networking Roundtable is one of a number of Career Transition Groups devoted to helping people build job search skills and find a great new career after a job loss. Meetings are available every day of the week in a number of different locations, making it easy for anyone to find time to visit a group. Although many of the meetings are held in churches and other houses of worship, the CT Groups aren’t religious. All of the meetings and online resources -- and there are many -- are free. Membership in the organization is free and open to anyone, employed or not, but you can only sign up in person at one of the many Memphis-area meetings.

4. Undercurrent

Undercurrent is not your typical business mixer. It’s a free monthly social gathering designed to get people out and get people connected. Don’t expect to hand out stacks of business cards, but do expect to meet an exciting group of people who are all about making things happen. This is a great group for young professionals, people who are new to Memphis, or anyone who prefers a more vibrant and interactive networking scene. There’s no membership and no cost to attend Undercurrent events. Most events are held on the last Monday of the month starting at 7:00 or 8:00 p.m., at great locations like Central BBQ, Bounty on Broad, and LBOE Restaurant. Spaces are limited, so check out the Undercurrent Facebook page to learn more and make your reservation for the next event.

5. Memphis Startup Meetup

If you’re interested in startups, entrepreneurship, or building a business, you’ll find something to love at the Memphis Startup Meetup. The meetings follow a relatively freeform schedule, as much a mastermind and support group as they are networking events. Memphis Startup meetings typically feature a guest speaker or presentation, along with plenty of time for questions and discussion. Most meetings attract 10 to 20 attendees, and organizers strive to foster an atmosphere of collaboration and learning. Meetings run from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the last Tuesday of the month, and there is no cost to attend.

6. American Marketing Association -- Memphis Chapter

The Memphis chapter of the American Marketing Association is a great place to be for professionals -- and aspiring professionals -- in the marketing industry. The primary mission of the Memphis AMA is education, reflected in the excellent speakers and topics chosen for their monthly luncheons. Membership in the Memphis AMA is available at a number of levels for students (who pay $57 per year) to young professionals ($150 per year) to professionals ($260 per year). Members receive discounted attendance to the monthly luncheons, along with other benefits, but monthly events are open to the public at a rate of $25 per event.

7. Greater Memphis Chamber

Whether you’re a lifelong resident or a recent transplant, the Greater Memphis Chamber will help you eat, sleep, and breathe Memphis business — or at least help you find great restaurants, great hotels, and plenty of people to do business with. Membership in the Greater Memphis Council offers a slew of benefits, most notably the Advice on Tap, Mentor Memphis, and ChamberDirect programs, which give Memphis businesses a direct line to customized advice from fellow entrepreneurs. The Chamber also offers several in-person networking opportunities each month, from ribbon-cuttings to council meetings to educational opportunities.

8. BNI Mid-South

If you haven’t heard of BNI (Business Networking International), then it’s definitely worth checking out one of the world’s largest referral-based networking groups. The highly-structured weekly group meetings are designed to help members get to know one another’s businesses extremely well, hoping they’ll pass along referrals for new business on a regular basis. For this reason, BNI policy limits group participation by industry. In other words, if you’re a mortgage broker, you cannot join a group which already has a mortgage broker. BNI has several chapters in the Memphis area, allowing potential members to visit a few groups to see if the structure and members are a good fit before committing. Location, time of day, and industries represented varies by group, so it’s a good idea to get in touch to find out which chapter would be a good fit for your business. Where are your favorite places to network in the Memphis area? 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 for marketing tips and advice on how your business can swim with the sharks.