Take your business one step further with RGA Network

Take your business one step further with RGA Network

Successful networking can take a business to a whole new level and learning how to do so doesn’t have to be a secret.

The Revenue Generating Activities Network supports businesses from start-ups to well-established entrepreneurs by offering a different sort of networking opportunity. RGA Network was founded by Mark O’Donnell after he tried the networking groups Tampa Bay had to offer.

“There were kind of two styles of networking groups in Tampa Bay,” O’Donnell said. “There was the rigid: you have to show up every week, rule-driven networking meeting, and you had to pay enormous membership fee, etc. I liked to say there were more ways to get kicked out than kicked in. Then there was this free group. They were a lot of fun, but it lacked the level of professional businesses, and there were a lot of direct sales.”

What O’Donnell was looking for, and what he ended up creating with RGA Network, was an effective referral community that has a lot of fun. The RGA Network has grown just over a decade later with chapters all over Tampa Bay, from St. Pete to Westchase and Carrollwood, New Tampa and Wesley Chapel.

In 2022, the RGA Network published its first book, “The Best Business Minds in Tampa Bay,” featuring 50 local entrepreneurs sharing advice on how they got their business to thrive. It’s even up for Creative Loafing’s award for Best Book by a Local Author, with voting online available now.

The book was so successful that RGA Network has done it again with a follow-up book, “How to Maximize Your Network,” featuring more entrepreneurial members. The sequel was just released on Aug. 29 and shares the stories of local business owners who survived and thrived through the pandemic.

“Writing a book gives you credibility on being an expert in your field and your topic of authority, but it’s also expensive, time-consuming, and hard,” O’Donnell said. “We now have a platform on how to do that. Each individual chapter is written by the professionals who span throughout Tampa Bay within the book.”

Melissa Mabe, an entrepreneur in the Carrollwood area, participated in writing a chapter called “Pivot” in the latest book.

“I was intrigued when they pitched the idea to all of us, I loved the idea of a book being for anyone starting a business to the person who’s been in business 30 years,” Mabe said. “Every type of business, from solopreneurs to entrepreneurs can get something out of this.”

Mabe is an event planner who has been in the industry for 30 years and started her own business, Melrose Enterprises. She shared a bit of what she discussed in her chapter, which is how she had to pivot the way events were planned during the pandemic.

In her chapter, Mabe describes how she adapted, survived and thrived as an event planner. It’s her hope that other businesses will see the value of crafting a contingency plan – something she said business owners probably hate to do the most but it’s also the most valuable to their business.

“There’s a lot of books out there, and I will tell you I’ve read every sales book known to man,” Mabe said. “Very few sales books, believe it or not, talk about networking at length. Most are talking about how to sell, how to pitch or work a room, but it doesn’t really go into relationships. I think this fills a niche that hasn’t been addressed in one place.”

Since joining the RGA Network, Mabe has seen the real value of this networking group. Some of the advantages she said, for example, include giving her access to people she may not have met otherwise. Mabe credited O’Donnell as very good at connecting people, matchmaking those businesses he sees as beneficial to one another.

Whether members make connections through weekly meetings, or its MOMS and DADS (Meetings Outside the Meetings and Discussions After Dinner), these connections are warm and personal. Since starting RGA Network, O’Donnell has seen the amount of support that members have gained from joining.

Carrollwood weekly meetings are held each Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. at Glory Days Grill, 14457 N Dale Mabry Hwy., Tampa.

Westchase and New Tampa weekly meetings are held each Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. at the Grand Hacienda, 11955 Sheldon Road, Tampa, and Glory Days Grill, 17508 Dona Michelle Drive, Tampa.


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