About

Learn how Networking Today got started, our founders, and what it means to be a part of the movement!

Networking Today was started to increase awareness of local businesses and stimulate the economy of the northwest Knoxville area known as Karns and Hardin Valley.

My name is Rich DeForest, and I founded Networking Today in July of 2013 because I watched a great local restaurant close its doors due to a lack of exposure. Watching this moved me to do everything I could to make sure this would not be the result of any other local business!

Our very first meeting started with four of us; we met in the loft of Cozy Joe’s Cafe off Hardin Valley Road.  We didn’t know exactly what to expect; we didn’t have any rules, but we had some experience from our involvement with Chambers of Commerce and local networking meetings; we used this experience to serve as the framework to get us started.

We decided to start laying out some of our differences, such as…

  • No Attendance Policy – You know it’s true… out of sight is out of mind!  Think about it, if you’re benefiting from coming to a Networking Today meeting, why wouldn’t you keep coming?  Here’s a crazy thought, we’re not going to make you show up; we expect you to be a responsible member and hope you come each and every week because you want to, not because you have to.
  • No Categorical Exclusivity – Your largest or smallest competitor may be sitting right next to you… the world outside is dog-eat-dog competition.  If you cannot define your value proposition in a small group like Networking Today, how will you be able to do it in the outside world?
  • No Politics – Though most of us are politically conservative, we are neither republican nor democrat. Networking Today is not the place to announce political opinion.
  • No Religion – Networking Today welcomes all religious perspectives.
  • Networking Group Friendly – we welcome members of other networking groups.
  • Respectful
    • Men are gentlemen.  As we grew, we asked men to yield their seats to ladies that joined us late to the meeting and sexual harassment of any kind would lead to immediate removal from the group.
    • We are respectful and limit our talking while someone else has the floor… wouldn’t you want the same thing when you’re speaking?
    • No passing of literature or samples before, during or after your Business Brief – it’s distracting.  Besides, it’s expensive to waste print material – if people want it, they will come ask for it!
    • If you’ve got to take a call, do it as far away from the meeting room as possible.
    • EVERYONE cleans up after themselves and others.
  • All Can Ask for Business – not only can our members ask for business, but so can our visitors; our hope is that all who come reap rewards.
  • Weekly Business Brief – Everyone will get a chance to give their name, state their business, and what type of referral or introduction they would like to have.
  • Weekly Business Spotlight (aka 20 mins of fame!) – Each and every week one of our regulars have the privilege of presenting whatever they would like to present for up to 20 minutes.

Keep in mind, it is not that we think we’re better, but rather, unique; our desire is to lower all barriers that would traditionally prevent someone from getting involved, while raising the standards in all areas of networking.

We hope Networking Today will provide some benefit to you whether you visit once or become a regular attending member!

If you have any questions, visit our “contact us” page where you will find numerous way to get in touch.

Thanks for your interest in Networking Today!