Essential Guide to Local Business Networking Events in the DMV
Identification of the following networking opportunities does not imply that they are endorsed by MarketForce StrategiesSM, but merely represent organizations with which MarketForce StrategiesSM is familiar, as a service to the local business community.
Chambers of Commerce
- Alexandria Chamber – monthly breakfasts, after-hours network mixers, and (free) brown bag/roundtable luncheons sponsored by the Alexandria Small Development Center
- Arlington Chamber – monthly breakfasts, evening network mixers, and (free) brown bag/roundtable luncheons
- Arlington Chamber Small Business Roundtable –the Chamber sponsors free, monthly roundtables on various business topics, open to a few guest visits and Chamber members
- Central Fairfax Chamber – monthly evening network mixers; some breakfast and luncheon sessions
- DC Chamber – monthly evening network mixers, periodic educational presentations, plus bi-weekly “Leadshare” sessions for exchanging referrals, with a focus on economic development, tourism, and advocacy
- Dulles Regional Chamber – monthly networking breakfasts, evening network mixers, and (free) brown bag/roundtable luncheon workshops
- Fairfax Chamber – non-routinely scheduled events emphasizing state and global trade issues, with a focus on advocacy
- Greater McLean Chamber – monthly luncheon and evening network mixers
- Greater Springfield Chamber – monthly networking breakfasts, evening network mixers, and (free) brown bag/roundtable luncheon workshops
- Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber – monthly networking breakfasts and luncheon seminars
- Prince William Chamber – monthly networking breakfasts, luncheon roundtables, and after-hours networking mixers
- Reston Chamber – monthly luncheon and evening network mixers
- Vienna-Tysons Chamber – monthly luncheon and evening network mixers
- South Fairfax Chamber, www.southfairfaxchamber.org – meetings 3-4 times a year
- Greater Washington Board of Trade – a Chamber-like regional organization holding non-routinely scheduled events, including the resources of its Small Business Network division
Local Business Groups
Alexandria Region – each group serves as a hyper-local chamber of commerce and is comprised of businesses located in the same general geographic area, often represented by a number of retailers, which meets periodically for presentations, networking, and to address issues affecting their members. Among them are the West End Business Association, Eisenhower Partnership, Del Ray Business Association, and the Old Town Business & Professional Association.
Quasi-Government Sponsored Organizations
Alexandria Small Business Development Center – 2-3 monthly educational sessions per month on topics relevant to small businesses, focusing on those in Alexandria
Economic Development Organizations
- Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation, www.sfdc.org – 9 monthly panel presentations on business growth topics on the 1st Thursday.
- Fairfax County Economic Development Authority – business growth workshops every 1-2 months
- Washington DC Economic Development Partnership – business management and growth panel presentations on the 2nd Wednesday
Independent Networking Groups
- Old Town Alexandria Connections – upper echelon small businesses and organizations as eager to grow their business as they are to share tips, leads, and referrals with other OTAC Members Meetings are held between 12:00 and 1:30 on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month
- Washington Network Group – an organization of business, finance, technology, foreign and government affairs professionals holding special networking events, innovative educational forums, and professional development opportunities
- Northern Virginia Business Referrals – weekly breakfast meetings of Northern Virginia small businesses
For Technology Organizations
- Northern Virginia Technology Council – the region’s premier networking and educational organization, holding a variety of breakfast, luncheon, and evening events for a wide range of technology firms
- Technology Council of Maryland – non-routinely scheduled educational events for District of Columbia and Maryland technology firms
- MIT Enterprise Forum – for entrepreneurs of all types, with 24 worldwide chapters, including this one in D.C.
- TIE-DC – for entrepreneurs of all types, with a lot of IT, having 53 chapters in 12 countries, including this C.C. chapter
- The Hub – for telecom and related industries.
Women’s Networking Groups
NOTE: Although created for women professionals, many women’s networking groups accept men
- National Association of Women Business Owners (Greater DC Chapter) – NAWBO Greater DC works to promote interdependence among the more than 45,000 women business owners in the Washington, DC area and holds monthly educational luncheons, plus other events.
- eWomen Network (Tysons Corner Chapter) – monthly breakfasts, periodic educational events, and an annual convention for women entrepreneurs
- Women Building & Investing in Success – Sheila Dixon, Founder, 703-327-7624 – this is a fairly new group created for women business owners and a mentoring and educational resource.
- Women in Technology – monthly lunch forums, evening network mixers, and ongoing educational events for women technology professionals
- Women’s Business Center (under the umbrella of the Community Business Partnership) – monthly breakfast educational presentations (First Friday of the month), plus a variety of structured training classes and resources for business startups
The Alexandria Brown Bag – associated with A.S.A.E., this group arranges for speakers on topics of interest to associations/nonprofits during its free “bring-your-own” monthly luncheon meetings, on the third Thursday, between 12:00 and 1:30 in Old Town Alexandria. Receiving invitations and making reservations can be done through its Linked In Group, or by contacting its coordinator, Talisa Thomas-Hall at talisathomashall@theCEOnet.com or 703-981-1143. The meetings also are posted for registration on A.S.A.E.’s Website
Franchised Networking Groups
NOTE: These groups operate under a franchise-like arrangement, with a central headquarters and separate chapters with their own members
- BNI (Business Networking International) – thousands of chapters world-wide and numerous in Northern Virginia, holding weekly meetings with strict attendance requirements
- Network Referral Group – about 50 chapters in the region meeting at least monthly
- Team Network, www.teamnetwork.com – about a dozen chapters in the region meeting at least monthly
For Government Contractors
- The American Small Business Coalition a membership organization offering networking and educational events for both federal governmental contractors and federal agencies.
- SECAF (Small and Emerging Contractors’ Advisory Forum)– SECAF provides an environment for small/emerging governmental contractors to learn, network, and be an integral part of the contracting landscape, through (usually monthly) educational programs that incorporate successful business practices, business growth, contract partnering, recruitment and retention, and program development.
- Quantico-Belvoir Regional Business Alliance – the mission of the Quantico/Belvoir Regional Business Alliance mission is to position the region as a welcoming and supportive community to the military and their business partners, in order to facilitate positive outcomes from growth, both within and outside the MCB Quantico and Fort Belvoir and to convey information on BRAC and other DOD-related growth opportunities. In doing so, Alliance identifies and communicates DOD-related business opportunities, through partnerships, advocacy, training, networking, and community outreach.
For Veteran-owned Businesses
- Capitol Post/The Bunker@DC – several business management workshops each month attended by (mostly) veteran and non-veteran business leaders
- DCORP (Objective Rally Point) – monthly workshops designed to support Veteran-Owned Small Businesses and Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses
This list is courtesy of Peter Baldwin of MarketForce Strategies. Disclaimer: (1) There is no guarantee the all of the organizations on the list are still active, (2) There is no guarantee that all of the organizations' described activities are still current, and (3) Neither I nor MarketForce Strategies is endorsing any of the organizations, just sharing them.