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San Clemente Journal

Looking Business in the Eye

Sep 29, 2015 12:48PM ● By Maggie Zeibak

Local business people at a Chamber Mixer.

by Maggie Zeibak

Raw aggression rarely grows or nurtures a business. Technology is important, in fact, vital in today’s world, but sometimes it clouds personal interaction, so where do small business owners find a positive avenue to strut their stuff and let the world know they exist? 

In a quest to find like-minded people who are pleased to know what services are offered by someone else, many people choose the route of Business Networking International, experts in business networking and referral marketing. It’s a case of “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours,” especially when word-of-mouth information spreads the good word about your product or service. 

The local Beach Cities Chapter members believe they can help each other increase their business through a structured, positive and professional program, all the while having dozens of sales people promoting their product. Only one per occupational classification is selected for each chapter, thus avoiding a disproportionate number of people in each business.

Brian Hannigan said, “I had the opportunity to join BNI with my SendOutCards business a year ago after being invited as a guest. As the President states at each meeting, ‘You will know if BNI is right for you in the first 5-10 minutes.’ That was very true and I wanted in after seeing how these professionals networked with each other and passed business between one another. Membership is not automatic and I had to go through several interviews. I was accepted and that has been one of the best business decisions I have made. It gives me a team of over 50 people who share my product/service whenever they see the opportunity and I do the same for them. I wanted to be more than just a member so I volunteered to be on the Visitor Host Committee where we welcome guests and introduce them to members with whom they may be a good fit to refer business to one another. Along with the business that is conducted at each meeting BNI has also been a great opportunity to make new friends.”

The current President, Tom Sheltraw of The Tradesman Electric agrees, “I specialize in creative electrical design and installation and benefit from Beach Cities BNI, as it is a place where professionalism meets opportunity through an extended network of referrals.”
Meeting other small business owners in a relaxed environment enables members to form close associations and help with problem-solving or raising awareness to current challenges. Sharing a warning about a website that creates a fake conversation that malicious people post on Yelp as a business review can help members find support and perhaps, a solution.

“Networking helps me develop personal relationships with other business owners. If you have the desire to help others build their business, they will give back to you,” said Helen Mahshi, owner of 2nd Hand Treasures, a home décor consignment store in Capistrano Beach. “Networking at groups such as BNI, the Chamber of Commerce and Good Ole Gals give me the opportunity to get to know other business owners, what makes them unique and who their dream referral would be. It’s much more personal and targeted than advertising, and the results are more successful,” she added.

The Chamber of Commerce holds a monthly Business Mixer that is open to the general public and provides two hours of power networking. Usually hosted by a chamber member or business, it is an opportunity for them to promote their business, introduce their staff and showcase their office. It’s a key strategy for small business success. Our 5-Star accredited Chamber of Commerce helps promote a better understanding of private enterprise and strengthens the business climate in San Clemente. Norma Hernandez is a good person to call for more information.

Whichever organization you decide to join, it is with the objective to inject the personal touch in your business relationships. The bottom line is all important, but finding someone who is equally enthused can only be achieved by experiencing that firm handshake and looking that person in the eye to discover their personal qualities.