You notice there’s a long table set up in the peaceful garden patio, where people in suits, jeans and T-shirts and other casual attire, are seated. They have drinks with tropical umbrellas and seem to be having a great time, what with all the laughing and smiling, the rapt attention when someone has the floor — or table — as it were.
You’re curious and step closer. Welcome to the Ocean Beach Networking Group. Founded in February by real-estate agent C.C. Summerfield and Internet consultant Chuck Hardwick, the group meets at Te Mana Café on Tuesdays from noon to 1 p.m.
The format is simple. There’s a warm-up and introductions — complete with the familiar practice of passing out business cards — followed by a 15- to 20-minute mini-lecture. People usually linger after the event to discuss topics of interest and to sign up to present at a future meeting.
So, how did the group come into being?
Hardwick and Summerfield live in Ocean Beach and are interested in developing local clients and connecting with other OB businesses and entrepreneurs. When they couldn’t find a local networking group, they decided to create one.
After working out the particulars in February, they held their first official meeting at Te Mana on March 4 and drew 11 participants. Hardwick said there are usually about a dozen people each week, but on March 7, there were closer to 20.
So, who will you connect with at the Ocean Beach Networking Group? According to Hardwick, there are people with new and established businesses that are “hungry to grow and develop.”
There have been website developers, website marketers, SEO optimization experts, investment consultants, real-estate agents and sales reps, as well as bar and music promoters, personal trainers and writers. Others include an artist, an attorney, a DJ, an eco-entrepreneur, a meditation instructor, a chef/restaurateur, a loyalty card consultant, a life coach, a pastor, a yoga instructor, a dog walker and a professional videographer.
“Every week, there’s people I never met — and I love meeting new people, learning about what they do,” said Hardwick. “This is a free event, and the group is open. Participants are encouraged to check out whether it’s a good fit, bring business cards, marketing materials and a friend.
“This is also a great opportunity to be a speaker and promote your own business. We’re definitely looking to grow. It makes me feel good to see people connect on a social and professional level,” he said.
Hardwick said he was appreciative of Te Mana for being “so gracious and helpful to the group. The service is really good and the people who work there are all super-cool. Be sure to arrive about 15 minutes early to place an order before the meeting starts.”
For more information, call (760) 579-6120, or visit www.obnetworking.com.
Te Mana Café is located at 4956 Voltaire St. Call (619) 255-9233, or visit www.temanacafe.com.