Whether you’re looking for a job, building a business, or just need some face-time with like-minded people, networking is an important skill set to have. Sometimes life’s big challenges can be met over a cup of coffee with a new connection. In the Willamette Valley, there are lots of networking opportunities for professionals of all backgrounds to meet new people and build professional relationships.
I moved to Eugene three years ago and made friends the only way I knew how: through Facebook. Facebook groups are an easy start if you are a social media geek like me, but maybe you’re not, or maybe you’re looking for something a little more professional. I definitely was this time last year before I finally discovered more things Eugene has to offer. Here are my top picks for business, marketing, and community connections (and this doesn’t cover everything!).
You know I had to start with this one! EMA is a fun organization for people who love to communicate, as well as connect and “nerd out” on marketing. We welcome non-profit organizers, professional marketers, creative types, business owners and students. Our lunch-and-learns cover a variety of topics, the food is always tasty, and the people are always friendly. Join our email list to keep up to date, or let us know if you want to volunteer to help us expand our programming.
This meetup is great for anyone doing creative work, including marketers and business owners. In this group you will be able to meet and socialize with the design community, as well as learn new tips and news about Adobe products. This group is welcome to anyone with an interest, from beginner to expert.
The Chamber has a robust set of programs for the business community. Every Friday morning you can have breakfast with the Greeters and introduce yourself. Once a month you can sip and socialize at Business After Hours, and/or the Young Professionals Network events. They also have bi-monthly luncheons for Women Business Leaders that are always inspiring.
RAIN (Regional Accelerator Innovation Network) is a hub for new business owners to kick-start growth. RAIN’s main focus is on start-ups (high growth, usually technology based). However, there is room for all entrepreneurial spirit here, because their events are public and there is always a variety of people. I recommend the Third Thursday Coffee Meetup, once a month at RAIN’s downtown Eugene office. Everyone gets to introduce themselves and state what they are looking for, so you know who to talk to.
Eugene Tech Scene
Another idea, if you’re interested in the blossoming tech economy here, you’re in luck. There are multiple tech events a week in this area, as well as a group of passionate people that want to help it grow. Technology Association of Oregon is always cooking something up, Eugene Web Devs hosts monthly talks, or you can stroll down to The Barn Light on Tuesdays and have a drink with the Tech Tuesday crew. To follow everything that is happening, feel free to join the Eugene Tech Swtichboard to see the weekly list. Or, sign up for the Meetup.
Another great way to meet people is to join a club that offers volunteering and fundraising activities, because it supports the community. Active 20/30 Club, Rotary, and Zonta all have a solid presence in the Eugene-Springfield area.
Take a class
Last of all, Eugene and Springfield have a wealth of organizations that offer a chance to learn a new skill and make new connections. Places that offer creative and career related classes include:
- Lane Community College’s Continuing Education program
- Small Business Development Center
- Maude Kerns Art Center
- Oregon Art Supply
- Oregon Contemporary Theater
- Salsa Dancing, Swing Dancing, or other dance classes
- And a bunch of health and wellness facilities! Try yoga, bootcamp, meditation, and others
What’s your favorite way to connect? Let us know!