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Small Business Expo at Curling Club Saturday

September 9, 2015   ·   0 Comments

Starting a small business in a small town, or building up your customer base when you don’t have the finances or breadth in the market to do so can be difficult. While there are plenty of resources to assist small businesses and entrepreneurs in a town like Orangeville, it doesn’t necessarily assist with the networking once a business has been launched.

The idea of Networking Groups have been around for awhile, with successful ones occurring in some of the surrounding towns and cities for a while.

When Charlotte Graham and Joel LaPalme met up last summer to discuss starting a networking group to include people in the Orangeville area, they realized they had the opportunity to start one IN Orangeville, that would appeal to business owners and entrepreneurs looking to expand their networks.

“Our first meeting had 10 local business owners attend, four of which were Joel, his wife, myself and my husband,” explained Ms. Graham. “Now, a year and two months later, we’ve been growing exponentially. It’s a free group; the only requirement is giving it your time.”

In just over a year, that group has grown to include 132 local businesses, at a membership of nearly 200 individuals participating.

Next Monday, September 14, the group will be holding their September event at Fionn MacCool’s in Orangeville. New members are always welcome, and are invited to come out to the meet-ups.

“We like to describe our meetings as sort of a singles’ mixer, but for businesses,” explained Ms. Graham. “We encourage people to get out and meet one another; sell their themselves first, their business second, and their product or service third.”

The group not only helps people to strengthen their sales skills and the way they present their business by continuously making introductions to the new people they meet, but for many, it has opened the door for mentorship relationships, co-operative operations and more.

“It’s really catching on, and it’s a great way for local businesses and people to connect,” she added. “Harold Kaiser is really fantastic, allowing us to host our meetings their each month. We open a cash bar, and there are some appetizers. It’s a great time, and a wonderful opportunity.”

But the really big news for the group is the hosting of their Small Business Expo this weekend. On Saturday, September 12, the group will host their Expo at Orangeville Curling Club, aiming to bring the network- ing group and the businesses/professionals involved to the community.

“It’s great to network between different business owners, but it’s even better when you have the opportunity to bring in clients and help expose those small businesses,” said Ms. Graham. “Many might not have the brick and mortar-style setup to spread their reach and invest in that additional marketing, so this gives them that opportunity to be introduced to the community and have access to them.”

One of the benefits to community members interested in attending the expo is that the Orangeville and Area Networking Group consists of a vast array of different businesses.

People can find someone involved in everything from health and wellness, to automotive, real estate, landscaping, home-based businesses, winemaking, wedding planners, lawyers, drones, painters and more.

“It’s a very eclectic group of people that participate, with a wide range of businesses, products and services,” said Ms. Graham. “There are several that have set up demonstrations for the expo, and others who will have products available to purchase with cash at the event.”

The Small Business Expo will also have a lot of other things going on to help make the event feel more like a regular expo. Although it won’t be nearly as big as the annual Orangeville Lions Home and Garden Show, it’s a step in the right direction towards such an event.

Along with people who are doing music for kids, there will be detailing and shine displays, winemaking demonstrations, and a day-of raffle consisting of prizes provided by local businesses, including some who were not able to attend the event.

The Small Business Expo will be held on Saturday at the Orangeville Curling Club from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. and is free to attend.

For more information on the Orangeville and Area Free Networking Group, the Small Business Expo, or to find out how to register for their September event, you can email the organizers at OAFNG@yahoo.ca, check out their Facebook Page (Orangeville and Area Free Networking Group), or contact them by phone at 519-940-0085 for Charlotte Gra- ham and 647-456-7764 for Joel LaPalme.

         

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