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Best Business Networking Events in San Diego

Published on: February 3, 2017

When it comes to success in business, who you know can be just as important as what you know.  The good news is that in cities such as San Diego, there are a number of events that not only have networking as their primary purpose, but you can also count on them happening every year.  As a result, whether you are one of the more than 3 million people who call that area home, or you're only here on business, you can use any of these tips to give yourself a leg up on the competition. It's time to start closing deals!

1. SCORE: San Diego

SCORE is an organization run by volunteers under the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and is a perfect fit for entrepreneurs. As with 6 Degrees, you can choose from numerous networking events. If you’re a woman who owns your own business (or aspires to), you’d probably enjoy the Women’s Networking Breakfast, put on every other month with a new speaker every time. They also offer 40 workshops a year, almost all of which are either free or only cost a nominal fee.  Not only do these forums allow you to network with other entrepreneurs, but they also provide lots of useful information, from how to establish a marketing plan to understanding intellectual property laws.

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2. Mission Bay Networking Group

This group is similar to LeTip in that one person from each profession is allowed. Members range from a chiropractor to a lawyer to a seamstress and a travel agent. Ultimately, as their website reads, “The primary goal of Mission Bay Networking Group is to develop strong referral partnerships.” If you’re interested in open positions, they meet every Friday morning and once a month for happy hour.

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3. San Diego Pros

One great thing about San Diego Pros is that you can attend several meetings to test the waters and see if it’s a good fit for you. They invite you to one of their weekly Thursday morning meetings, you attend for several weeks in a row, and then you’ll be extended an invitation to officially join. They distinguish themselves from other similar groups on their website, explaining, “B2B (business to business) networking groups tend to be expensive and demanding of referrals to members’ businesses. The San Diego Pros believe that by investing in the relationships within the group, the exchange of business happens as a natural byproduct.”

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4 .San Diego Entrepreneur Meetup Group

Taking its inspiration from business guru Seth Godin, this group believes the business world will continue its march away from industrialism and toward a “connection economy” where real value is created through the human connections business people make.

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5. San Diego Young Entrepreneur Network Meetup Group

Not just for networking, this group is also for young entrepreneurs to stay up-to-date on innovative technology. Each week, the group gives a guest speaker 15 – 20 minutes to talk about a technique that is currently working for them so others may learn from it.

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6. San Diego Small Business Meetup Group

The San Diego Small Business Meetup Group holds semi-regular networking events, workshops, speaker events and personal development opportunities for entrepreneurs in San Diego.

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7. San Diego Entrepreneur Center & Startup Society

This group wants San Diego to become a role model for other cities in the United States to follow in regards to entrepreneurship. It holds events and workshops throughout the year and even has shirts you can order to show your San Diego entrepreneurial spirit.

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8. San Diego Entrepreneurs Exchange

A nonprofit organization, the Exchange is run by local entrepreneurs to encourage new entrepreneurs, and sponsor networking and educational services for people interested in Life Sciences, Biotech, Pharma, Medical Devices, Tech and Alternative Energy.

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9. Entrepreneurs’ Organization San Diego

A global, peer-to-peer network, the Entrepreneurs’ Organization consists of influential business owners who belong to 157 chapters in 48 countries. It has been around since 1987.

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10. San Diego Venture Group

Another non-profit business association, its mission is to support and promote the venture capital and startup eco-system in the San Diego region. The group includes venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, experienced executives, and professionals who support them

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11. Youth Entrepreneurship Program San Diego

Featuring lessons, mentoring and counseling, this group focuses on young people who are interested in starting their own business. It even has a business plan competition for them to enter.

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12. CoFoundersLab

A unique group, CoFoundersLab allows entrepreneurs to find people who may be interested in becoming a co-founder of their company or, on the other hand, it also allows people who want to invest in a new company to find a startup that they can invest in.

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13. Connect

Connect gives entrepreneurs access to people, capital and technology that can help grow their startups. It holds events throughout the year.

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14. The VineSD

The VineSD connects entrepreneurs and allows them to grow under one roof. The organization has partnerships with EvoNexus, ROC, Irvine Company and ReadyNow®.

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15. Exceptional Entrepreneurs

Founded in 2008, Exceptional Entrepreneurs has four weekly networking events in San Diego. No membership is required, but there is a small cost.

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16. TiE South Coast

Founded in 1992 by a group of successful entrepreneurs, TiE uses its five pillars of mentoring, networking, education, incubating and funding to help small businesses get started and grow.

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17. Chamber Events

Events Calendar – business and community events with B2B business networking, mixers, workshops, roundtables, trainings, and many business growth opportunities. Get involved to start, change, and/or grow your business opportunities!

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18.Weekly Community Events

Events Calendar – San Diego East County weekly events and attractions. Farmers markets, concerts, car shows, with local community experiences that will warm your heart, and keep your wallet happy also. Get out during the week and have some fun!

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19. San Diego Women’s Groups

Discover dozens of women’s groups in San Diego—some are focused on networking, particular industries, occupations, professions or hobbies, and some are just for friendship. As a service to the community, I have listed them here with links to their websites and information about contacts, meetings, and dues (as of Jan 2014). Most of these are non-profit although there are a few exceptions. Please let me know if there’s anything I should correct. I hope you meet some wonderful new women!

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20. SDHF Networking Events

SDHF Networking Events are member-only events that highlight the vibrant housing sector in San Diego. Events include popular gatherings at the affordable housing developments such as:

  • “Meet the CEO” sessions
  • Site tour at the latest affordable housing developments
  • Happy hours and social events

The contribution required to sponsor a Networking Event varies depending on event factors such as expected attendance, location, and topic.

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21. 6 Degrees

Whatever you might call your perfect combination of fun and work, 6 Degrees has something for you. In fact, 6 Degrees has something for nearly everyone, regardless of the month, every month. Every month, at some time during the month, 6 Degrees offers something for you to do, whether it be a breakfast, Happy hour, or one of their Cigar and Scotch mixers, the whole point is mixing fun and business.


22. San Diego Young Entrepreneur Network

About 150 people belong to this group, which was founded by Will Caldwell, who is a young entrepreneur himself. This group meets about once a month where most of the discussion centers on advice for startups and staying motivated.


23. LeTip of Greater San Diego

If you are in the San Diego area, but you want to expand your business horizons into areas beyond your own field, LeTip of Greater San Diego might be just the place for you. LeTip is a networking group where there are no two members of the same profession in attendance. As a result, you won't have to worry about conflicting with another of whatever business you are in. LeTip meets every Wednesday at 7 a.m. for breakfast.


24. Network After Work

Network After Work is a group that is rapidly expanding in cities throughout the country. At the present time, there are 19 cities that have Network After Work monthly events. The San Diego group alone has more than 600 people who attend regularly at a different busy nightlife location every month. Want to network? Join Network After Work. Just make sure you have a cocktail in your hand.


25. Women's Wisdom

This group, as its name suggests, is one for women. Founded in 1991, Women's Wisdom is a group for networking as well as coaching for business as well as personal success. Monthly gatherings, as well as retreats, are a highlight of this group.


26. BNI

BNI is a business and professional referral organization that allows only one person from each profession to join a chapter.


27. The Friends In Business Network

A weekly event for building successful relationships/friendships for San Diego business owners. Onetime lifetime membership fee and full breakfasts is a solid deal.


28. San Diego Chamber of Commerce

The overpriced franchise of the biz networking world, but has the benefits of tons of members and resources.


29. Startup Grind (Google for Entrepreneurs)

Sponsored by the Google, these events feature founders, authors, CEO's, entrepreneurs and more. I haven't had the time to check them out personally, but the website and future/past presenters look amazing. Looking forward to attending, and hope to see you there.



MPI San Diego is a not-for-profit corporation approved for charter by Meeting Professionals International in November 1979. It is a membership organization that brings together meeting professionals and vendors for professional growth, advancement, and networking.

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31. SDBJ

Throughout the year, the San Diego Business Journal hosts a series of high-profile events that bring together decision makers and business owners from all industries. These programs are designed to recognize businesses and leaders who positively impact the San Diego County business community.

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32. AITP

For more than six decades, AITP has championed the human element of the Information Technology profession and remained focused on providing a community of knowledge, education, and resources that will empower its members to reach their true potential as an IT business professional.

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33. San Diego Referral Connection

San Diego Referral Connection is a business network made up of local business owners and professionals in San Diego, whose members deliver products and services to home owners, consumers, small businesses, and corporations. Combining weekly meetings and a monthly social hour, our members work to get to know each other and actively refer one another.

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34. Business Networking Groups

GSDBA BNGs (Business Networking Groups) offer a forum where GSDBA members can increase their business through networking and sharing direct leads with other members on a regular basis. They offer a supportive environment that allows each member to share products or services with others who want to help them succeed. Conflicts of interest are not allowed, meaning once you join, a business in the same category as yours can not join. BNG members will follow the guidelines outlined in the BNG Policies (below) so that all become more profitable and successful, and the BNG’s will continue to grow. BNGs are open to General, Corporate, and Associate Level Members only.

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35. Flagship Cruises & Events

Flagship Cruises & Events is San Diego's only locally owned and operated cruise and event company. Operating San Diego's finest fleet of high-end yachts expertly managed by our team of captains, crew, chefs and event consultants. Our services include fabulous gourmet dinner and brunch cruises, cocktail cruises, harbor tours, whale watching excursions as well as ferry and water taxi services. And there is no better place to celebrate a wedding, conduct a business meeting or just throw a party than on a Flagship yacht.

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36. San Diego Rotary

Of the 33,000 clubs worldwide, San Diego Rotary is the 5th largest! Boasting with over 500 local members as the longest standing Rotary in San Diego County, our club includes some of the city’s well-known civic, business and community leaders who meet weekly for fellowship and service. Since 1911, San Diego Rotary has been providing San Diego’s leadership with an opportunity to connect with others toward the common goal of improving the community in which we work and live, as well as the world beyond. This work is channeled through our 60 committees.

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37. San Diego Business Network

The San Diego Business Network can benefit both established business owners and new business owners alike with the exponential power of our group! This dynamic group generates an average of more than 100 leads to members every month! How would you like to have 20-30 extra salespeople spreading the word about your product or service? The "sphere of influence" of each individual or business in the group can generate an unlimited number of leads for your business. It's "Word of Mouth" advertising at its best! If you are interested in finding out more about this exciting group of professionals dedicated to promoting and supporting the growth of each other's business, please make plans to attend one of San Diego Business Network's informal meetings. Dramatically grow your business through customer referrals!

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38. NET Party

With over 200,000 members globally, NetParty is The Worldwide Young Professionals Network. We are best known for our NetParty "Networking with a Twist"® business / social networking event. As seen in Forbes ("Best of the Web"), this event is designed to combine business networking with social fun" and generally follows this format:

  • The first two hours of our events are like an extended "cocktail hour" with passed hors d’oeuvres at many events, drink specials, and low music conducive to business networking and making new connections.
  • Later, our events take on a more social atmosphere, with great music and conversation.

We sponsor other events for young professionals, as well, including Tech Night 2000™ (for startups and the people who love them), NetParty Social Club (our purely social event), NetParty Turbo (speed dating for business contacts) and more!

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39. San Diego East County Chamber Foundation

The San Diego East County Chamber Foundation has been formed for public and charitable purposes, including and without limitation, to operate a nonprofit organization to promote better understanding of business and its integral role in community development in the East San Diego County, California area, to provide training and education to the local community at large, and to solicit, hold and disburse funds and property for the public benefit programs arranged through the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce.

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40. Athena

Athena San Diego is a 501(c)6 professional development association serving women in science and technology. Athena is a community of dynamic women that provides inspiration, education, networking and leadership programs that empower women to realize their true potential within STEM industries. Athena members come from all sectors of STEM organizations, including life sciences, healthcare, defense, engineering and related industries, as well as the service providers who support them. Athena represents senior executives, entrepreneurs, educators, and emerging executives, Athena supports members at the top of their field while paving the way for those on their way up.

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41. Star

We are a network of trusted resources revolutionizing the way our business community works through a collaborative platform that connects, empowers, and builds deep and meaningful relationships through education, communication, and collaboration.

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42. San Diego Speed Networking

San Diego Speed Networking was borne from an increasingly popular concept in major business hubs across the country: speed networking. Speed networking events have experienced growth because they actually work in helping companies, individuals, and organizations reach their business goals. The San Diego Speed Networking team is motivated and business-minded and organize high quality and effective events. Our goal is to help businesses, both large and small, expand their networking circle by assembling them in an energetic and active environment. We will work diligently to maximize your networking experience with us.

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43. Pure Water Technology

Pure Water Technology partners with many local organizations to provide no-cost sustainable drinking water solutions for community events hosted by SDG&E, American Lung Assoc., Scripps, , Balboa Park Cultural Partnership and CalTrans to name a few. We also work very closely with non-profit organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club, YMCA, San Diego Bird Rescue, Community Housing Works and more to provide low-cost sustainable drinking water solutions.

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44. CuffLinks Business Networking

Cufflinks Networking was founded by Mark Anthony Cedre. Mark Anthony Cedre, known to his friends as just "Mark Anthony", has grown Cufflinks Networking organically. It began as a method to attract professional resources for his wealth management clients to collaborate and establish new alliances in a challenging economy. After a year of holding such events, it gained the attention of many professionals in the San Diego area to achieve the same. Hence, a child of professional and social networking was born. Cufflinks strives to be a pillar of sophistication and class. Our events are held at only the most prestigious venues that San Diego and Los Angeles have to offer. One must have a sphere of influence to dominate his/her marketplace and it is Cufflinks' goal to help facilitate, build and grow those relationships by providing only the very best of environments to do so.

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45. WIB

WIB San Diego has been a member chapter of the original organization for over 40 years, and has a very important place in the hearts of its members. Inspired by a “Women, Work and Power” seminar held at UCLA in 1974, a few women who had met there continued to meet informally, to share ideas, achievements, and experiences. Eventually, in 1976, this group incorporated and WIB was officially born. Its goals – then and now – are to provide a forum for increasing professional development, personal growth, and visibility – all factors that enable women to exert influence over and shape their worlds. Individually unique, the women of WIB San Diego are some of the most prominent and progressive women in San Diego County. We represent many professions, everything from corporate America to the world of non-profit … from the halls of education to the halls of justice and government. WIB San Diego members are diverse, encompassing women who are both starting their careers, as well as those who are in full stride … who come from all races and ethnic backgrounds … women who are single, married, with kids, and without. One thing we all share is a commitment to succeed at our given professions; another is our desire to have a place to garner support, knowledge, and friendship just by showing up.

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46. Ellevate

Ellevate is a global professional women's network dedicated to the economic engagement of women worldwide. The most expansive and diverse network of its kind, the community is made up of successful, motivated and passionate professional women from various industries and walks of life with one common belief: that investing in themselves and in other women is good business. Our members are at all stages of their careers: groundbreakers, thought leaders, CEOs, entrepreneurs, board members, and visionaries. They are alumnae and students of some of the world's leading academic institutions. Some are at the top of their fields, and others are on their way. Thousands of women strong, the community is large and growing by the day.

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47. TEDxSanDiego Community Network

TEDxSanDiego relies on an extensive network of community organizations in order to bring a diverse collection of innovators, explorers, visionaries, creatives, students and teachers to our annual events. We owe a debt of gratitude to the groups listed below who connect their networks to TEDxSanDiego.

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48. University of San Diego

The local San Diego universities offer business networking and job fair-type events on a school-dependant basis. USD is dedicated to the values originally articulated by its founders, Bishop Charles Francis Buddy of the Diocese of San Diego and Mother Rosalie Hill of the Society of the Sacred Heart. Those values are reflected in the University's rich Catholic intellectual tradition. USD's community of scholars are committed to educating the whole person—intellectually, physically, spiritually, emotionally, socially and culturally. The university provides a character-building education that fosters independent thought, innovation, integrity, analytical thinking, and an open-minded and collaborative world view. USD welcomes and respects those whose lives are formed by different traditions, and we recognize their important contributions to a pluralistic society and to an atmosphere of open discussion and discovery, which is essential to a liberal arts education.

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49. SDEE

San Diego Entrepreneurs Exchange (SDEE) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization founded by local San Diego entrepreneurs to provide a voice for early stage technology start-ups, to support new entrepreneurs and their companies, and to sponsor networking and educational events to help develop the skills necessary to bring funding, business, and jobs to the San Diego area.

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50. San Diego Biotechnology Network

The San Diego Biotechnology Network was founded in September of 2008, addressing the need for more high quality, face to face networking among Biotech professionals in the greater San Diego area. Membership is open to those working at a biotechnology, diagnostics, green technology, medical devices, or pharmaceutical company in the Greater San Diego area. We plan to host monthly events in which we will actively promote face to face networking, and also allowing members to connect and interact on LinkedIn (check out our Next Event to get started!). We plan to feature one new or exciting company at each happy hour, allowing members to learn more and network with them. Organizers of this group are Mary Canady of Comprendia and Todd Backus of Blue Horse and Trumpet, two local companies that are interested in fostering communication in the Biotech community

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51. AMA

San Diego AMA is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization comprised of mid to senior-level marketers that comprise our diverse, organization. While our content and benefits are aligned to provide empower integrated brand marketers with career-advancing opportunities, limitless access and marketing resources, all are welcome to our inclusive, professional organization.

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52. Green Business Network

The City of San Diego is committed to reducing energy consumption, conserving water and minimizing waste. By joining the Network, the Green Business Network team becomes your business Green Team. Let us help you improve your operations by providing assistance in energy conservation, water, and waste reduction, and recycling hazardous materials such as fluorescent bulbs, batteries and paint products. Studies show that businesses using sustainable practices save costs. Let us help you save costs and save San Diego's environment.

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53. Exceptional Entrepreneurs

The purpose of meeting with the business professionals in Exceptional Entrepreneurs is to develop relationships, learn about each other, connect people from different parts of the community and grow our businesses. Exceptional Entrepreneurs meets every Wednesday in San Diego & also in Tucson Arizona.

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If you live or work in the San Diego area, you can consider yourself unusually blessed with the networking opportunities that are available. If you need any assistance with increasing your business exposure online in San Diego, we offer a variety of digital marketing services, including Search Engine Optimization, Google Adwords Management, Facebook Ad Management, and more. We can bring more visitors to your website than you would see at any of the business networking events in San Diego!

About the Author:
Justin Murray

Justin Murray is the Owner and operator of Kickin Knowledge, a San Diego web design, development, and marketing company. With over 10 years of online marketing and website experience, Justin has a passion for building and promoting businesses on the internet. Justin studied Computer Science from Coleman University, with a concentration in Computer Networking, where he achieved certifications in A+ Computer Repair, as well as CompTIA Certifications in Computer Security and Networking.  Considered a "jack of all trades" when it comes to websites, Justin brings experience and dedication to Kickin Knowledge. Kickin Knowledge proudly specializes in Wordpress, Woocommerce, E-commerce, SEO, and PPC (pay per click like Google Adwords) marketing services.

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