Whatcom County Networking Groups

“Networking is not about hard selling, it’s about building trusting and mutually beneficial relationships over time.”  Patti Rowlson, Bellingham PR & Communications

Networking can be an important tool for small businesses, and it should not be limited to simply “connecting” with people on social media sites.  Word of mouth referrals come from putting yourself out there, meeting new people and then forming business relationships.

If you would like to join a local networking group, ponder these three tips:  1) Consider what the time commitment would be (weekly or monthly meetings/morning, lunch or evening gatherings) and whether you could set aside time to participate consistently.  2) Attend a meeting or two as a guest to see if their format and membership is a good match. 3)  Pick just one group to start with, and do it well!

Networking Tip: Take plenty of business cards to hand out and value the cards received from folks you meet at events. Download the BPRC networking tipsheet on this page for more great advice on rocking your next networking event.

Bellingham City Club: The Bellingham City Club is a non-partisan civic organization of around 500 members that fosters dialogue and debate on important issues facing our community. Monthly meetings consist of a buffet luncheon and a speaker, followed by questions. City Club meets on the fourth Wednesday of most months from 12:15 to 1:30.

Bellingham Connections: Bellingham Connections is a referral network meets Thursday mornings from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. at Baker Creek Place in the BIAWC Building.

Bellingham Green Drinks: An informal monthly gathering of environmentally minded folks. Open to all, an ever-changing group of people meet to network, make friends, collaborate, and find out what’s happening in our community. Bellingham Green Drinks meets every 1st Wednesday of the month at varying locations. Click here to receive notifications of when and where the next one will be.

Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce: This membership organization hosts the largest networking breakfast meeting in Whatcom County! Beginning at 7:15 a.m. at the Northwood Hall in Bellingham and held on the second Friday of each month, this ongoing event brings together more than 130 business professionals together. The Chamber also holds regular Business After Business networking socials at area businesses.

Building Industry Association of Whatcom County: The Building Industry Association of Whatcom County (BIAWC) is a private, non-profit trade organization of builders, remodelers and other businesses related to the home building and construction industry. They offer regular membership meetings with networking opportunities.

Everson/Nooksack Chamber of Commerce: Everson/Nooksack Chamber’s main agenda revolves around their summer and winter festivals, which are intended for the promotion of local businesses. Contact the group for the date of their next general meeting.

Ferndale Chamber of Commerce: At noon on the third Wednesday of each month, the Ferndale Chamber has its membership luncheon at the Pioneer Pavilion. They also organize a Leading Ladies networking group and host many community events where you can volunteer with peers.

Lynden Chamber of Commerce:  Beat your competitors to the punch! Join the Lynden Chamber’s monthly networking meetings. The group gathers in Lynden on the last Thursday of the month.

Sustainable Connections: A non-profit membership organization of independent, locally-owned businesses, farms, and organizations based in Whatcom and neighboring counties, Sustainable Connections works to transform and model an economy built on sustainable practices. Members enjoy marketing, education and networking benefits, including Let’s Do Lunch meetings at noon on the first Wednesday of every month and Energy Club morning networking at 8 a.m. on the third Thursday of every month.

Networking Tip: Don’t put business cards collected at networking events in your desk drawer. Read this article to learn how to use those cards to expand your network in 15 minutes or less!

Technology Alliance Group NW (TAG): TAG membership grants technology-based business professionals the opportunity to learn and make connections from both industry experts and local business leaders with the goal of improving your skills as a business owner. NextTech is an open group that meets on the third Thursday of every month to discuss technology trends, economic impacts, challenges and successes. TAG Lunch + Learn talks feature conversations about local tech-related issues over lunch. And then there are regular meetings of TAG Women in Tech, Whatcom IT Professionals, TAG IT Leadership and more. Quarterly breakfasts also are held; keep an eye on the TAG website to find the next one.

Whatcom Business Alliance: WBA is a membership organization comprising businesses and public entities across all business sectors; they promote business success and community prosperity. WBA offers frequent member events where networking can take place.

Whatcom Women in Business:  Whatcom Women in Business is one of the oldest and most encompassing network/referral sources for business women. They develop leadership skills, strength through mutual support, mentoring and opportunities for business and personal growth. WWIB meets on the fourth Tuesday of the month from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at Bellingham Country Club.

Whatcom Women’s Network:  This referral group meets Thursdays from noon to 1:15 p.m. at The Gateway Centre Executive Suites in Bellingham. They have a featured speaker, typically a member of the group.

Whatcom Young Professionals: Since 2006, WYPs has been connecting and developing leadership skills in young, like-minded individuals. They offer networking through social events and community involvement. Various meeting days/times are offered throughout Whatcom County, including Downtown Bellingham, Bakerview and Barkley Village.

Women’s Professional Network: If you’re looking for the chance to attend an educational event in addition to expanding your business network, consider Women’s Professional Network. Meetings are 7 to 9 a.m. on the last Thursday of each month at the Four Points By Sheraton in Bellingham.

Know a Whatcom County networking group that should be included in this list?  Email details to patti@bellinghampr.com.


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