Virginia Beach entrepreneur’s networking happy hour is making connections – The Virginian-Pilot

VIRGINIA BEACH — While many local millennials choose to pursue careers outside of Hampton Roads, Jake Maines did just the opposite.

The Northern Virginia native not only became enmeshed in the community, but is doing what he can to enhance it and help other ambitious people develop regional roots. Enamored with the beach, Maines said he didn’t think twice about making Virginia Beach his new home.

He came to Norfolk to attend Old Dominion University in 2011, and earned his bachelor’s degree in marketing in 2015.

“I knew I eventually wanted to open my own business and figured any business I would eventually open would need marketing,” said Maines, 29.

Following internships in his field and a monthlong sabbatical in Europe, Maines started as marketing manager at Array Digital in Chesapeake in 2017. Originally a software development company, the business shifted its focus to internet marketing within a year and a half of his joining the staff, Maines said.

“We transitioned the business and restructured it around my department,” he said. The business went from little recurring revenue to becoming a lucrative digital marketing agency, he added.

Maines said his 4.5 years with Array Digital was a great ride. He said he further honed his industry skills and learned about running a business from owners Erik J. Olson and Kevin Daisey.

Olson referred to Maines as his right-hand man for a long time: “He was the perfect guy at the perfect time and very ambitious.”

Ready to delve into his entrepreneurial side, Maines decided to get his real estate license during the pandemic. Soaking up the change of pace that included being out from behind a desk, breaking free from the 9-to-5 workday and networking in the community, Maines switched careers last year. Contracted through Iron Valley Real Estate Hampton Roads, Maines said he’s well-positioned to market himself under Jake Maines Realty.

“Seeing the smile on people’s faces when I’m able to help them get into their dream home and invest in real estate is a great feeling,” he said.

Beyond the new gig, Maines said he has found a great deal of fulfillment in community interaction through the Networking Happy Hour he started in August.

Open to any and all business owners, professionals and anyone eager to build connections, the free events held on the first Wednesday of each month at local bars and restaurants. They have no agenda other than to meet and mingle.

“I’ve been able to help people generate a lot of business through that,” Maines said. “That’s been really satisfying.”

Maines, who volunteers with the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore, Lynnhaven River NOW, and The Noblemen, incorporated quarterly partnerships with local nonprofits into the events. Last month, he raised enough money to buy 500 pounds of dog food for Hope for Life, a Virginia Beach animal shelter.

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Maines said his five-year plan includes growing the Networking Happy Hour even more, helping more people grow their businesses and give back to the community on a larger scale.

“You never know when you meet more people what can transpire,” he said.

Sarah Dodson, of Norfolk, is one of the Networking Happy Hour’s numerous attendees.

She works in business development so as soon as she heard about Maines’ monthly event, she did her best to free up her calendar on the first Wednesday for the foreseeable future.

“It’s a great networking opportunity,” Dodson said. “Jake is a really authentic person who just wants to be the connector for other people, and he does such a great job.”

For more information on the Networking Happy Hour, visit jakemainesrealtor.com/networking-happy-hour.

Sandra J. Pennecke, 757-652-5836, [email protected]