As an impact-led business, you’re on a mission to change the world for the better. Here’s the thing: you can’t do it alone. You can certainly make progress, but you’ll make bigger waves of impact when you join forces with others who share your mission, vision, purpose, and values.

Networking is a powerful way to meet, connect, and build relationships with like-minded people, businesses, and organizations. When you share the same problems, care about the same things, and create the same experiences for your customers and clients, you can grow your impact (and businesses!) together. 

To make sure you’re taking advantage of this amazing tool to grow and scale your impact-led business, we’re giving you the inside scoop on everything networking, including the biggest benefits of networking, the 7 need-to-know tips to effectively network, what type of networking events and networking opportunities are out there, and how to build a sustainable network with business owners who share your passion for social and environmental sustainability.


The Benefits of Networking for Impact-Led Businesses

Networking is more than just collecting business cards or making small talk at events. For impact-led businesses, networking can be a powerful tool that opens doors, fosters connections, and amplifies the impact you want to create. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. When you approach networking with the right mindset, you can see it as an opportunity for discovery and learning.

According to the Harvard Business Review, “professional networks lead to more job and business opportunities, broader and deeper knowledge, improved capacity to innovate, faster advancement, and greater status and authority.” Here are a few other benefits networking can have on your impact-led business:

Gain Access to Expertise

Networking allows you to tap into the knowledge and expertise of individuals with more experience in sustainability, environmental conservation, social responsibility, and other related fields. Learning from others can help you make more informed decisions and give you insight into industries or tools you didn’t know about before or want to use and/or become a part of. 

Find Partnerships and Collaborative Opportunities

Connecting with other businesses, nonprofits, and individuals can lead to meaningful collaborations, aligned partnerships, and even dream jobs or contracts with ideal clients. 85% of job vacancies are filled via networking (Forbes, 2021).

Unlock Inspirational Insights

Networking can provide opportunities to be inspired by the stories and achievements of others, making waves in the socially and environmentally responsible space. Learning about others’ journeys can motivate and encourage you to reach even greater heights in your sustainability efforts. The business owners just ahead of you in the journey can often be your biggest cheerleaders and supporters. 

Access Resources and Support

Whether you need financial support, access to resources, or simply a supportive community, networking can connect you with individuals and organizations willing to help you achieve your sustainability goals or help provide you with the tools you need to grow your business. 


7 Need-To-Know Tips for Effective Networking

Networking for impact-led businesses isn’t just about quantity; it’s about quality and authenticity. Showing up to the event is just the beginning. You still need to bring your A-game. Participate in the conversations around you and take action when and where possible. Come prepared with your eco-friendly, compostable business cards, and practice your elevator pitch out loud. Here are a few other tips to make your networking efforts more effective:

1. Define Your Purpose

Before you dive into networking, be clear about your purpose. What specific goals do you have for yourself and your business? How will networking help you achieve these goals? What is the purpose of attending this networking event? Having clarity around your business goals will guide your interactions and make networking feel more effortless.

2. Seek Out the Aligned Events

Not every networking group or event is for you –especially if you’re an impact-led business. It’s essential to seek out and attend conferences, webinars, workshops, and social gatherings relevant to your field and aligned with your values. Focus on events that attract individuals and organizations strongly committed to social and environmental sustainability. We provide a robust list of networking events towards the end of this post.

3. Share Your Story

Be prepared to share your business’s story and mission. Be authentic and transparent about your big ‘why’ and your journey. These are what make you unique! Plus, being able to effectively communicate your story is what will help you connect with others who resonate with your vision. 

Tip: An elevator pitch is a great way to convey your story quickly and sufficiently. Don’t forget to practice it beforehand!

4. Listen Actively

Networking isn’t just about talking; it’s about listening. Ask questions, seek to understand, and show empathy. Genuine interest in the stories and experiences of others can be felt (even online!) and opens opportunities to create a deeper connection. 

5. Leverage Online Platforms

Almost every business out there has an online presence, which means online networking is just as crucial as in-person networking. Take advantage of this and use social media, online forums, and professional networking platforms to connect with like-minded individuals and organizations. If someone asks a question within your expertise, provide a valuable answer for them. Be willing to share some of your knowledge without expecting payment (all within reason, of course).

6. Follow Up

After a networking event or conversation, remember to follow up! This is one of the most important actions to take if you want to see real results from networking. Send a personalized email or message to express your gratitude and interest in continuing the conversation. Bring up something you specifically talked about with that person, or if they made a presentation, mention something they said that really inspired you.

7. Offer Value

Networking isn’t a one-way street. Offer value to your connections by sharing resources, information, or support when you can. If you meet someone looking for a website designer, send a vetted list of website designers you’ve worked with or know have happy clients. A spirit of reciprocity can strengthen your network.


Different Types of Networking Opportunities For Impact-Led Businesses

Networking provides a range of opportunities for impact-led businesses to discover, meet, collaborate, and build meaningful connections within the sustainability and social impact sector. Whether you’re looking for large-scale events or more intimate affairs, here are a few common networking opportunities that cater to all categories of impact-led businesses.  

Conferences, Summits, Expos, & Trade Shows

These larger events can attract hundreds, if not thousands, of like-minded people and businesses from around the world. They usually cost money to attend and are often geared towards more established businesses.

  • Sustainability Conferences provide opportunities to learn about the latest trends, engage in workshops, and network with leaders in the field. Many offer virtual attendance options so you can still connect with participants worldwide and access expert speakers and panels even if you can’t attend in person. 1% For The Planet Global Summit is a personal favorite of ours, but there are many more that don’t require you to be a member to attend, including The Sustainable Brands Conference, which hosts several events a year.
  • Eco-Focused Expos and Trade Shows Events showcase eco-friendly products, services, and innovations, making them ideal for businesses looking to connect with suppliers, partners, and customers with a green focus. Expos are often intertwined with larger sustainability conferences and can overlap with conference examples from above. The Greenbuild International Conference and Expo is a well-known event with a large attendance. 
  • Impact Investing Summits and events bring together investors and businesses with a focus on creating positive social and environmental impact alongside financial returns. The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) is one of the leading organizations and hosts an annual Impact Investor Forum.

Workshops, Seminars, and Roundtables

These are smaller networking events (tens to hundreds of attendees) that provide more informal and intimate networking opportunities for impact-led individuals, businesses, companies, and nonprofits. Many smaller networking groups offer these opportunities to their members, including the Co-Impact Collective, launching on Monday, June 24, 2024.

  • Sustainability Workshops and Seminars are smaller, more focused events that allow attendees to explore specific sustainability topics, exchange insights, and collaborate on practical solutions. They can be held at conferences, expos, tradeshows, or even online. 
  • Social Entrepreneurship Roundtable discussions offer a forum for in-depth conversations about the challenges and opportunities in social entrepreneurship and how to create positive change. Exchanging knowledge and input on social and environmental issues is a great way to connect and build relationships with like-minded business owners.

Online Communities & Social Hours

Meaningful community leads to insightful growth, purposeful collaboration, and deep connections. Luckily, many online communities are popping up for socially and environmentally responsible business owners. Some offer robust community platform access via monthly or annual payments; some require pledges to join. In contrast, others host monthly events like social hours, meet and greets, and other free online gatherings, with no additional commitment required.

  • Eco-focused and Sustainable Business Communities, social hours (or happy hours), and meetups bring local business owners and entrepreneurs together within specific cities or regions. These events are perfect for socially and environmentally conscious business owners and professionals interested in informal networking and relationship-building.
  • The Ecopreneur Community hosts monthly (virtual) social hours, digital cleanups, coworking sessions, and book clubs with other eco-focused business owners.
  • The Clean Creatives provides a Slack community for creatives who pledge to use their power for good and not work with fossil fuel clients. 
  • Co-Impact Collective (launching June 24th) will offer a robust community and space for connection and collaboration, so like-minded sustainable businesses can grow together and support each other as they build brands and businesses that put people and the planet first.

In Person Meetups

For those who can make in-person events or thrive in face-to-face conversations rather than online, in-person meetups and networking events might be a great option. The tricky part is finding impact-focused groups in your local area. Luckily, there are a few options you can look for. 

  • Local Sustainability Meetups are often a grassroots networking opportunity for local businesses, nonprofits, and individuals to meet and learn more about each other’s shared interest in regional sustainability efforts. The Sustainable Business Network (SBN) is an excellent platform with many branches in different countries and cities across the globe. You can find the US branch here.
  • Environmental Conservation Volunteering events allow individuals to engage with like-minded people or organizations while giving back to the environment. The Nature Conservancy frequently organizes volunteer events for conservation projects like tree planting and habitat restoration. The Surfrider Foundation has chapters and student clubs for local beach cleanups.

Career & Business Growth Opportunities

  • Sustainability Career Fairs are often organized by universities and institutions to connect sustainability-minded job seekers with employers and organizations offering green job opportunities.
  • Impact-led Business Incubators/Accelerators often specialize in impact-led startups, but their programs provide access to mentorship, resources, and valuable networking opportunities for participants. The Unreasonable Group runs accelerators for impact-focused startups, such as the Unreasonable Impact program.

More Networking Groups, Organizations, and Platforms

Conferences & Summit

Expos & Trade Shows

Each of these networking event types serves a unique purpose and can be valuable for various impact-led businesses. The choice of events depends on your specific goals and the connections you want to establish within the impact and sustainability sectors. Essentially, networking is what you make of it! 


Building a Sustainable Network

For impact-led businesses, networking isn’t just a business strategy; it’s a way to build a community of like-minded individuals who share a passion for social and environmental sustainability. By connecting with others who are equally committed to positive change, you can amplify your efforts and work together to create a brighter, more sustainable future.

As you embark on your networking journey, remember that every connection, every conversation, and every collaboration can be a step closer to achieving your mission of making the world a better place. So, reach out, connect, and together, let’s change the world, one networking event at a time!


Co-Impact Collective Launching on June 24!

Interested in the Co-Impact Collective and the networking events we offer? Our launch week includes member meetups, workshops, and other networking opportunities to meet fellow members! The Co-Impact Collective platform connects you with like-minded people and growth opportunities anytime. DM members, join in-person or virtual events, and discover resources to grow your network. We’d love to see you inside the community or at our launch week events!


  • Gino, F. (2023, August 4). Learn to love networking. Harvard Business Review.
  • Marketing Expertus (2020). Networking Statistics (2019-2020). Retrieved from Marketing Expertus
  • Ovcharenko (2021). Networking In Times Of Social Restrictions. Retrieved from Forbes