BNI celebrates 10 years in Hunts
THE start may be early, but the rewards are obvious to the members of the Huntingdon branch of BNI, a networking group that helps SMEs generate new business. About 70 people gathered at the George Hotel in the town centre on Friday to celebrate the group
THE start may be early, but the rewards are obvious to the members of the Huntingdon branch of BNI, a networking group that helps SMEs generate new business.
About 70 people gathered at the George Hotel in the town centre on Friday to celebrate the group's 10th anniversary and its continued success over a cooked breakfast and Champagne.
With a start time of 6.30am, the bleary-eyed guests were easy to spot among the small membership of this positive, lively group (it has averaged about 27 members since its inception, which is better than most BNI branches in the region).
The main aim of BNI is simple: Each member is there to pass on referrals to his or her fellow members. And, despite Friday's meeting being a special occasion, the focus on generating new business for some of Huntingdonshire's companies was never lost, and the referrals - small slips of paper - were flying around the room.
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The group allows only one member for a particular trade, profession or service, so there can be no problems with rivalry. The idea for BNI was born in America, and the positive US-style approach to business - and the Huntingdonshire economy - is very evident.
The positive energy was acknowledged by the guest speaker, Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly, who told the meeting he was delighted to see businesses helping each other to thrive.
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However, he added that the evidence in the City and Westminster suggested the economic situation was going to worsen over the next six months or so.
"There are some who believe this situation will continue for up to two years," he said. "I think we will come out of recession faster than France or Germany, but things will get worse."
Mr Djanogly added that he Government was playing a dangerous game by trying to spend its way out of a recession and predicted Gordon Brown's recent rise in the opinion polls would be short-lived.
But the gloom of the economic state of the nation could not dent the enthusiasm generated by the BNI group, which believes its networking practices can help businesses avoid the effects of a recession.
Time will tell, but on the evidence of Friday's meeting, networking works.
INFORMATION: To find out more about BNI and membership fees and rules, visit www.bni-europe.com or call 01923 891999.