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Networking: The Beginning

Two days ago I attended The Santa Barbara Business Expo, my first networking event.  Almost all the business blogs and books I’ve read give importance to networking and nothing convinced me more than when I met with my friend Jackie, a real estate agent.  I asked her how business was since she had only become a licensed for a few months earlier, and from what I know about real estate, it takes years to get clients.  But she told me that she’s busy and business keeps coming.  What? How?  I asked her what she did for marketing, and how she sought clients. 

“Well, it was really easy.  I found some real estate agent networking events to go to, and this guy I met told me he was leaving for Shanghai and gave me all his clients”.

My eyes widened.  Of course there was some luck to this, and I couldn’t help myself from being jealous.  I had spent the past few months, thinking of a business identity and value proposition, targeting my niche, sending out cold emails, meeting with potential middlemen …and Jackie just goes to a networking event and gets handed business. 

Managing money for an event or meetup group

On Jumping on Entrepreneurship

If you're running a regular event or meetup group that charges for events or sells sponsorships, you're going to need a plan for what to do with the money.

In the beginning, it won't be much and you can keep it in your personal bank account (or in a lockbox under your bed...). But after a little while, you're going to get uncomfortable with mixing personal and meetup finances. Many people start exploring starting a legal entity of some sort.

A friend of mine is in this position now with one of his meetups. He emailed me for advice, and I thought I would post my response for the benefit of others.

Yourself: This is what I did for a while when things were smaller and I didn't have much carry over from month to month. Once I started booking multi-month sponsorships and some larger deals though, I got nervous about having it so tied in with my personal finances. It got to the point where it became simpler to keep it separated. If you don't have much left over, or this doesn't happen super often, you can probably get away with this. If you're thinking about it though, maybe you're past that point.

A fourth option is to find another organization, partner with them and treat them like an umbrella. Use their infrastructure to manage the money for you. I'm part of a few organizations that do this. Access to money can be a bit slower, but you don't have to deal with any of the business/tax side of things. It's important here that you find the right organization to do this - you have to trust them a lot if you're giving them all your money.

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