July 20, 2017
Networking can provide entrepreneurs with a myriad of benefits ranging from shared knowledge and new opportunities to greater visibility in the marketplace, increased connections and greater personal confidence - that is, if you choose your network wisely. Beyond social niceties, the right business network can significantly affect your bottom line.
There are lots of organizations and associations where business people can interact, and most business owners participate in more than one. So what should you look for when you’re looking for a place to network? What is successful networking, anyway - and how do you know you’ve found the right network for you?
First and foremost, you should look for an organization whose values align with your own.
Values alignment between your business and your business network does a lot of important things. To begin with, it connects you with a lot of like-minded individuals - people with common philosophies and goals, the fabric of which sets the groundwork for more than just a business network; it sets the groundwork for a business movement.
REAP’s foundation as a business association is a vibrant community. Our acronym alone - Respect for the Earth and All People - says a lot about who we are and what we stand for, but these values shouldn’t be misconstrued as purely altruistic. Yes, sustainable business practices contribute to the greater good, but the financial impact of a network of sustainable local businesses is astounding, and the proof is in the numbers.
Since our inception in 2006, REAP has grown from an association of three Founding Members to 150. In that time we have achieved some pretty remarkable things, all grounded in the belief that it’s possible for businesses to be both profitable and responsible. More and more, we know our thinking is shared, and more and more we meet local entrepreneurs who are doing business differently and very successfully. We connect those people, and the effect of those connections has both social impact on our community and financial importance to our members.
We chose to focus our attention on local, sustainable businesses because we care about Calgary and had a vision for how caring for the planet and each other could produce both financial and social benefits for our city. We’re happy to say, 10 years into the journey, that our vision has become a reality that continues to grow.
Each year REAP members create social, environmental and economic benefits:
Employment for 5,500 Calgarians in jobs that pay a fair wage
$17 million in local charitable donations
11 million kgs of waste diverted from Calgary landfills
20,000 tonnes of CO2 diverted from the atmosphere
93,000 volunteer hours contributed to Calgary charities
$21 billion in revenue that supports the Alberta economy
We’re very proud of our accomplishments, but we’re equally proud of how our members feel about being part of the REAP family and the benefits they tell us they enjoy through our association. A recent member survey revealed that REAP networking events and personal introductions make a tremendous difference to businesses’ bottom lines. In fact, the average mean annual revenue members report as a direct result of their REAP connections is $34,543. Equally encouraging are the comments we’ve recently received from members about the broader benefits they experience through our association. Here’s a few from our 2017 survey:
“The local connections - I really appreciate all of them. [REAP] helps us get connected in ways we wouldn’t otherwise.”
“We’ve developed much more and meaningful partnerships with the business community.”
“We’re generating strong partnerships with businesses, allowing for more networking and business opportunities. We’re also getting far more face time with business owners & executives and receiving great guidance and advice from other members.”
“We really value direct outreach to REAP members, who were not before considered a target market for us.”
REAP membership isn’t for everyone, but if you’re a local business owner who cares about our city, our planet, and making a fair profit, then REAP might just be for you.
Click here to learn more about the benefits of membership in REAP’s like-minded local business community.
Join our Sustainability for Breakfast Meetup Group to connect with more than 2,200 of Calgary’s sustainability champions. You’ll be notified when this monthly networking and learning event series resumes in the fall.
Subscribe to REAP’s weekly newsletter, Local Buzz, to receive updates on REAP events and other important information to get you connected with our community.
Email Stephanie Jackman, REAP’s founder and president, at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss whether membership is right for your business.