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New local business owners invited to join free virtual networking event

The event takes place online next Wednesday Jan. 27 at 7 a.m.

The Business Network International (BNI) Business Elite Networking Group (Bradford Chapter) is hosting a free virtual ‘Visitor Day’ on Wednesday, Jan. 27 for new business owners who are looking to meet and network with other like-minded business owners while learning more about the BNI. 

BNI is a referral-based global networking organization formed in 1984 that has provided millions of businesses with the structure, training, and technology required for success. There are currently over 10,000 BNI chapters around the world with 275,000 members globally that have collectively generated over $16 US billion dollars in revenue from continued referrals.

The BNI Bradford chapter currently has 22 members in a variety of professions, only allowing one profession per industry to hold a seat within the group to avoid direct competition. The group is actively seeking to fill available seats with professions including an RMT (registered massage therapist), chiropractor, contractors, landscaper, plumber, and bookkeeper. Other professionals are also welcome to join. 

“Our goal is to have referrals for all members, not just internally, but externally as well,” explains Amber Smith, owner of Drive True, local auto-mechanic shop,  who has been a member of BNI for almost nine years and was the past president of the Bradford chapter from 2017-2020. “BNI has been extremely successful for my business. When I first joined, we were just a one-bay shop with one part-time staff. Now we are a six-bay shop, have had three locations, and have employed up to 15 people."

BNI models the ‘Giver’s Gain’ philosophy which states you must be willing to give first before you gain, and has built its core values around guiding principles. 

“Any business that is operating that wants to grow and desires more business, this is where to go,” says Steve Dickey, BNI Business Elite’s new president for 2021 and owner of Electrical Elite. “If you want to make more money and increase sales, this is a great opportunity – whether it be a start-up or existing business.”

Dickey shares that when he first started his business almost four years ago, he was not happy where he was and wanted more with his business. After his first year in business, he joined his first meeting with the BNI Bradford chapter and was instantly connected with other business owners who not only offered support and referrals but provided Dickey with the tools and educational resources to keep his business thriving.

“It’s a great investment, especially now if you’re hurting in this pandemic,” notes Dickey. “There’s been times when I didn’t think I was going to survive in business – you just doubt yourself and get down – just showing up to the meetings changes your mindset and gets you back in the groove! It can give you breathe. There’s a light there!”

Dickey adds that outside of business, the group has a personal connection; relationships he calls “family”.

This year marks the 10-year anniversary of BNI Business Elite (Bradford chapter). Meetings are held every Wednesday online from 7 a.m. - 8:30 a.m. and requires weekly commitments to ensure success with the program.

“If you don’t work the program (BNI), it doesn’t work – it definitely involves commitment – every single week! But it’s the commitment that makes it so successful,” shares Smith.

During this week’s visitor day, BNI’s ‘power team’ (business services team) will be offering a group presentation geared towards new businesses and are encouraging visitors to sign up via their website or by contacting BNI Business Elite through Facebook. Those interested can also contact a past or current member for an invitation.

“We’re really supportive and work with members to ensure they all have the resources to succeed,” expresses Smith. “If the member isn’t successful, the chapter isn’t successful."


Jackie Kozak

About the Author: Jackie Kozak

Jackie Kozak is a reporter/writer whose work appears on both BradfordToday and InnisfilToday
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