When Jessica Jones realized that marketing costs transcended the budgets of many small business startups, she felt a need to create a space for those businesses to connect affordably – in this case, free.
“Especially with the pandemic, new businesses and restaurants have tight profit margins and can’t afford to advertise,” Jones said. “I wanted a way to bring business owners together.”
Jones, Regional Sales Manager at Elevated Payments, started a Facebook group with Tiffany Justice of Vandermorgan Realty called Augusta Business Connection and out of that grew a monthly networking meeting. The CSRA Business Networking event takes place on the fourth Thursday of each month, 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Augusta Elks Lodge, 205 Elkdom Court. The next meeting will be on Feb. 24.
“The Facebook page is an everyday thing but this event is our way of getting to meet face to face,” Jones said.
It has become so popular that last month’s meeting was standing room only. To facilitate better movement for networking, Jones will also use the spacious Elks ballroom for the February meeting. That also prompted her to further utilize the space by creating six spots for businesses to set up tables – they sold out within 24 hours, so Jones has opened space for two more tables.
Jones learned early that to get people to attend and stay at events, food had to be available. At first, she paid for or cooked all the food herself. But then she decided to have someone sponsor the food in exchange for a table and a few minutes to make a presentation. That has become so popular that she already has sponsors booked into late summer.
Jones said the event lacks one thing – veteran business owners. Currently, the majority of attendees are young entrepreneurs and new business owners.
“We need more of the seasoned business owners to show up,” she said. “They’re the ones who can answer questions.”
Jones has designed the event so that no one profits financially from it. The money for table space is donated to the Elks for use of the facility.
But while there is no financial profit, there is plenty to be gained by those attending. For example, Jones said, last month a new businessman who attended later told her he had not only gained a lot of contacts that could result in new business, he also met a CPA to help with his bookkeeping.
And that is the “profit” Jones gains from her work in hosting the event.
“It made me so happy that I could help someone figure things out so much faster,” she said.
For more information about the CSRA Business Networking event, visit Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/6947676495303820/?acontext=%7B%22event_action_history%22%3A[%7B%22surface%22%3A%22group%22%7D]%7D
As President of the Elks lodge, and a small business owner, I am proud to help host this event every month. We love providing the small business owners in our community an outlet to connect. We are looking forward to this month’s meeting!
Thanks Adam for what you do and for making a difference. ABD needs to come by and attend very soon. Thanks for being part of our story.