Networking groups help Tampa Bay businesses, job seekers survive during the pandemic

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Personal connections have helped local small businesses turn a profit during the pandemic.

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From bakeries to air-conditioning businesses, and even dog walkers, Tampa Bay business owners say they’ve relied on others, including fellow members of Tampa Bay’s Revenue Generation Activities (RGA) Network Group, to learn what works and doesn’t during the pandemic.

“They’re willing to help anybody with a hand up, a handout, and a business shout-out,” said RGA Founder Mark O’Donnell, who started the group in 2010 which now has more than 800 members. “That’s what it’s about, keeping us all in business because we’re the heartbeat of the American economy, small business.”

RGA members used to attend in-person networking events, but the group quickly pivoted during the pandemic, and now holding virtual breakfast, lunch, and after-hours meetings five days a week.

“My thinking to that process was if we can keep people connecting they’ll be able to stay in business,” O’Donnell said.

For example, massage therapists and chiropractors connected with an advertising company, who created personalized masks that keep employees safe, while also promoting the businesses.

While groups like this help businesses, career coaches say similar groups on LinkedIn, Facebook, Eventbrite, and Meetup are great resources for job seekers who need to make personal connections. Basic Google searches can also help job seekers find virtual career events held by local organizations, churches, and job-networking support groups.

To learn more about RGA, visit the group’s website at this link.

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