Make us your home page

Hernando networking groups allow businesses to make connections

Networking fosters business, and its proponents can back up that claim with dollar signs.

Essentially, business networking means getting out word about one's trade to others who also have a service or product to parlay — one human contact at a time.

Some might refer to it as schmoozing. The Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce and two chapters of Business Networking International provide stages for putting the marketing strategy to work locally.

"It's all about building awareness and trust," says Dana Cutlip, chairman of the chamber's Nature Coast Business Professionals, which attracts an average of 40, sometimes up to 75, business owners or their representatives to monthly gatherings.

Added chamber president/CEO Pat Crowley: "To me, networking is building relationships, meet and then refer, with the credibility factor built in."

Every chamber gathering offers on opportunity to network, she said.

"Our mission statement," said BNI regional director Tom Fleming, "is to help members increase their business through a structured, positive and professional word-of-mouth program that enables them to develop long-term, meaningful relationships with quality business professionals."

Chapters of 40 to 50 members, only one representative per profession, meet weekly.

Both the chamber and BNI require a membership fee. They maintain that membership pays, through businesses growth that results from the contacts.

BNI's Fleming said records show that 1,900 members in 47 chapters from Tampa Bay to Gainesville have passed $100 million worth of business to each other through referrals in a year. The Leaders by Design chapter in Hernando County referred to one another $3.2 million in business in the last 12 months. The Winning Edge chapter, also in Hernando, passed $2 million in business to one another during the same time period.

Although the chamber groups do not record statistics, Cutlip estimated that members have expanded their business tenfold.

Noting that most business owners have a circle of some 200 contacts each, Cutlip said, "(At the meetings), everybody has 30 seconds to tell who they've done business with."

For instance, a real estate agent might mention speedy service she experienced through a particular bank. A pest control business owner might remark about special care for a fragile package by a mailing provider.

"That's your referral network," Cutlip said.

Also, two members per meeting are allotted 10 minutes each at the podium to talk about their business or an endeavor in which they are involved that could broaden or hone their marketing efforts.

Crowley and Fleming say their networking groups are cooperative rather than competitive.

Summarizing marketing strategies for businesses, Fleming stressed, "Business professionals should belong to a chamber, a strong contact organization and, third, a community service club. That's how business is going to develop buzz in the marketplace and attract new clients."

Beth Gray can be contacted at

. If you go

Networking groups

The Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce: Nature Coast Business Professionals, Young Professionals, East Side Business Networking, Networking at Noon Brochure Exchange and the chamber's monthly membership breakfast. Groups meet monthly at various sites. Call (352) 796-0697.

Business Networking International: Winning Edge and Leaders by Design meet weekly at the Regency Oaks Clubhouse, 4445 Breakwater Blvd., Spring Hill, and at the Lake House, 1202 Kenlake Ave, Spring Hill, respectively. Call 1-888-282-8649, (352) 345-1377 or (352) 796-2676.

Hernando networking groups allow businesses to make connections 09/12/13 [Last modified: Friday, September 13, 2013 4:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pinellas licensing board loses support for staying independent

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER –– The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board on Monday lost its strongest supporter for staying independent.

    State Sen. Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican running for governor, said Monday that he will no longer support any legislation to keep the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board independent. This photo was taken in August. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  2. Triad Retail Media names Sherry Smith as CEO


    ST. PETERSBURG — Triad Retail Media, a St. Petersburg-based digital ads company, said CEO Roger Berdusco is "leaving the company to pursue new opportunities" and a member of the executive team, Sherry Smith, is taking over.

    Roger Berdusco is stepping down as CEO at Triad Retail Media to pursue other opportunities. [Courtesy of Triad Retail Media]
  3. Two new condo projects for same street in downtown St. Pete

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — It lacks the panache and name recognition of Beach Drive, but 4th Avenue N in downtown St. Petersburg is becoming a condo row in its own right.

    Bezu, a condo project planned at 100 4th Ave. N in downtown St. Petersburg, will have 24 units including a three-level penthouse with infinity pool.
[Courtesy of Clear ph Design]
  4. AAA expects gas prices in Tampa Bay will continue to fall


    Ticking slowly and steadily, regular gas prices have receded for the last 10 consecutive days. The average unleaded gas price in Florida is $2.67 this morning, a nickel cheaper than a week ago. In Tampa Bay, the current average unleaded gas has dropped 7 cents from a week ago to $2.62. The national average for regular …

    Gas prices for regular gas continue to decline. In Tampa Bay, the current average unleaded gas is down 7 cents from a week ago at $2.62 a gallon. [Times file photo]
  5. Kiran and Pallavi Patel commit $200 million for Clearwater medical school

    Real Estate

    CLEARWATER — Tampa Bay philanthropists Dr. Kiran Patel and his wife, Dr. Pallavi Patel are spending $200 million to create and promote a Tampa Bay regional campus for the private Nova Southeastern University.

    Drs. Kiran and Pallavi Patel, prolific Tampa Bay philanthropists, are putting up $200 million to create and run a new medical school under Nova Southeastern University. Here is a rendering of the proposed campus [Courtesy of Nova Southestern University}