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Going green? Join a network

Trade groups, expos and online communities can help you market your firm and link up with other business owners.

January 19, 2009|Karen E. Klein

Dear Karen: We want to reach other green businesses. Is there a network we could join?

Answer: Myriad trade groups serve niches such as renewable energy and the green building industry. Green America ( www.coopamerica.org) is a consumer-oriented advocacy group that publishes the National Green Pages. Attending its conferences would be a good way to meet business owners and market your firm, said Glenn Croston, author of "75 Green Businesses."

He also recommends Opportunity Green ( www.opportunitygreen.com), held in November at UCLA, and Our Green Legacy (southcoastme.com), an April business expo in Orange County.

Drop by a meeting of Green Drinks ( www.greendrinks.org) or EcoTuesday ( www.ecotuesday.com) or join an online group organized through Facebook or LinkedIn. There's more information available at Croston's website, www.startingupgreen.com, and at greenbiz.com.

Giving advice in a group setting

Dear Karen: How can I start a business advice group?

Answer: Seek out established groups.

"There are several organizations in L.A. that have business owners and leaders using the knowledge, experience and problem-solving perspective of others," said Ken Keller, who heads Renaissance Executive Forums ( www.executiveforums.com). Another group is Vistage ( www.vistage.com).

Alternatively, start your own group. "Conversations about business size, industry and purpose of the group, along with what is confidential, should be among the first things resolved," Keller said.

Emphasize commitment: "Many smaller business owners do not feel they need such a group because they are either too arrogant to participate or too reluctant to be vulnerable," Keller said. Make clear that you're starting an advice group, not a networking or sales club. "Ideal candidates for your group would be entrepreneurs who . . . can give and take advice, even if it is not something they want to hear."

How to find work with a start-up

Dear Karen: I'm a senior sales manager who would like to work for a start-up or small company. How do I find firms that could use my experience?

Answer: Think like the founder of a start-up company, said Craig James, founder of sales consulting firm Sales Solutions in Boston. New entrepreneurs are looking for capital and will be seeking out angel investors, investment bankers and the like, perhaps at investor forums.

"These are the people with whom you want to connect. They know all the start-ups and small, growing companies, and which ones need the sales leadership, knowledge and experience you offer," James said.

Consider using your own network, including online social networks, to identify job openings and meet promising entrepreneurs.

Visiting university entrepreneurial studies programs and establishing relationships with the directors could also help. Another route is to subscribe to newsletters or RSS feeds such as those from socaltech.com and startupbeat.com, which feature start-up companies.

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Got a question about running or starting a small enterprise? E-mail it to inbox.business@latimes.com or mail it to In Box, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012.

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