When I moved to Bar Harbor almost ten years ago, I knew two people. Because of this, I had to grow my network.

On this island, we have a mixture of civic organizations (which sort of recognize peoples’ occupations as part of membership) and networking/professional groups that will help you get connected faster and better than you thought possible. Here are the ones I know about:

Bar Harbor/MDI Rotary
This membership-based organization has weekly meetings with guest speakers. Primarily a volunteer/service and networking organization, the club has both one-year associate memberships (lower price) and fuller memberships and stresses engagement rather than attendance. The club focuses on community leaders joining together to take action for positive change and organizes fundraisers such as the Fourth of July Pancake Breakfast and Seafood Festival for community causes and works with Rotary International on common goals like eradicating polio worldwide, promoting peace and supporting education and local economies and clean water. Anyone is welcome to go to any meeting. Lunch is optional.  www.mdirotary.org

MDI Lions

The Lions’ Mission is “To empower volunteers to serve their communities, meet humanitarian needs, encourage peace and promote international understanding through Lions clubs.” Lions Clubs International extends their mission of service in local communities, in all corners of the globe. The needs are great and services are broad, including sight, health, youth, elderly, the environment and disaster relief.  The local club president is Chad Terry and guests are encouraged to attend meetings to learn more. (Note: women are allowed to join the club. This is a misconception I had about the organization until writing this post!)

Bar Harbor Area, Mount Desert, and Acadia Chambers of Commerce
Mount Desert Island has three separate chambers of commerce that have slightly different projects, events, and missions but their general purpose is to 1) promote the geographic area they serve and 2) to promote member business/organizations. Member benefits may include special events, marketing materials display space, advertising discounts, and more. Here is an overly simplified view of each:

Bar Harbor Area Chamber of Commerce: This is the big one. They hold several large community events including Bar Harbor Winter Beer Festival (January), the Fourth of July parade and fireworks  (July), and the Acadia Night Sky Festival (September). They have information areas in downtown Bar Harbor and Trenton. http://barharborinfo.com

Mount Desert Chamber Of Commerce: This is concerned with businesses in the town of Mount Desert/Northeast Harbor including downtown events like the Christmas Festival (December) and summer movie nights. Generally, the group is keeping the vibe of Northeast Harbor distinct and year round. They also staff an information center near the marina in the summertimes. http://www.mountdesertchamber.org/

Acadia Chamber of Commerce: This is concerned with the Southwest Harbor/Quietside area of MDI. Their biggest event is Acadia’s Oktoberfest and they staff a visitor’s center in downtown Southwest Harbor. http://www.acadiachamber.com/

Note: The Bar Harbor Area Chamber will let you list your event on their calendar without having to be a member.

Downeast Business Association
This group is modeled after Business Networking International chapters but much more laid back. The weekly meeting is set up so each member has a short form ‘presentation’ so that the other members of the group understand their business better and can act as referral sources for each other. Meetings also include longer form presentations periodically by members/guests and an active listserv. The group meets Friday mornings at 7:30 AM at the Somesville Library and welcomes guests. To learn more: http://www.dbamaine.org/

MDI Non-Profit Alliance
The MDI Nonprofit Alliance meets monthly (the first Friday of every month at various locations) and shares information about fundraising best practices, professional development opportunities, event planning (the group hosts an internal Google Calendar to prevent overscheduling) , and other resources. They even have occasional guest speakers at meetings. Lisa Horsch Clark is a great contact if you are interested in learning more. lisahorsch@friendsofacadia.org

MDI Professional Women’s Network
Joy O’Shaughnessy is trying to get this going via a Facebook group. You can get involved there: https://www.facebook.com/MdiProfessionalWomensNetwork/

Anchorspace Community Memberships
A recent way people can connect with other business people is at Anchorspace. They have one monthly ‘workshop’ event and one networking happy hour. Community memberships start at $19/month and mean you get on the member mailing list about things that are going on and can network with other members, online and off, looking to grow their business or network. Food, friends, and professional development for like minded people. https://anchorspace.com/community-memberships/

It seems easier to rely on online networks only but the reality is getting to know people in real life is really valuable. Get out there! And if you have other groups we should know about that fit this networking description, please let us know in the comments. 

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