Networking Group Brings OB Business Owners Together

by on June 17, 2014 · 1 comment

in Culture, Economy, Ocean Beach, Organizing

By Matthew Wood

Stroll by Te Mana Café on a Tuesday afternoon and you’re liable to see some of the future movers and shakers in the OB business community.

That’s where the Ocean Beach Networking Group has been meeting for a weekly luncheon ever since March. The group was the brainchild of Chuck Hardwick and C.C. Summerfield.

“None of my clients were in OB. They’re all over,” said Hardwick, who owns a web marketing business. “I really wanted to meet some local people. That’s how it came about.”

So he took to the Internet, posting a message on LinkedIn looking for interest. That’s where he met Summerfield, a real estate agent in the area.

“We had talked about starting a group,” Summerfield said. “Chuck just took off with it. I said, ‘That’s what I want in a partner!’”

Hardwick has taken a lead role in the group, creating a website and actively recruiting potential guests on social media.

“I work from home, so I don’t really have that office setting,” Hardwick said.

“One thing I miss is that water cooler atmosphere and talking to people. We try to bring that to the group.”

The meetings are informal, with the group varying in size – sometimes reaching two dozen people (full disclosure: I have attended a number of meetings, including the first one back in March).

Chuck Hardwick and C.C. Summerfield (All photos by Matthew Wood)

The eclectic group couldn’t get much more OB:

Financial planners and the occasional lawyer mingle with a gym instructor, shirt designer, drum circle leader, chef and an internet marketer who is a hypnotherapist in his spare time.

Participants meet in the patio of the Hawaiian-themed coffee shop, a rather idyllic setting for business to get done.

“They’ve been so great, helping us get the word out,” Hardwick said of Te Mana.

The agenda is pretty simple. Everyone at the table introduces themselves with a quick synopsis of what they do and why they are interested in the group.

Hardwick mixes things up with an ice breaker, such as everyone telling the group what kind of board they ride and why (some of the choices: long, short skateboard or no board).

Then a guest speaker gives a 20-minute presentation on their area of expertise, with topics varying from how to save up to buy a house to which seafood you should or shouldn’t eat. A local beer distributor was the hit of the group a few weeks back when he brought in samples for everyone to try.

That’s followed by a mingling session where members are encouraged to share business cards.

“It seems like every single week there’s someone new,” Hardwick said. “We want people to come out. It’s very informal. I just love meeting people.”

OB Network grp mw 02The founders say they’re not in it for new business, although they wouldn’t be opposed.

“It’s a long-term thing,” Hardwick said. “We get to meet a lot of interesting people and get to know some locals. Hopefully karma will go your way and make some business, but that’s not the main goal.”

Summerfield says it’s more of a way to bring people together who wouldn’t necessarily cross paths, even in our connected neighborhood.

“It’s all about the community,” she said. “I just want to make it the best community possible.”

The group meets every Tuesday at noon.

For more information, check out the group’s website

Or Hardwick encourages people who are interested to just show up.

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