BUSINESS people in Huddersfield have helped themselves to £2m in contract wins through membership of a busy networking group.
The BNI Terriers, which meets every Wednesday at Lockwood Park, has increased its annual income from £1m to £2m in the past 12 months – despite the impact of the worst recession in living memory.
The group – known as the South Pennine Area Chapter – is made up of representatives from 38 local businesses of all sizes and a wide range of categories, who provide business leads and referrals for each other at their meetings.
Chapter director and Meltham man Peter Sargent, of insolvency firm Begbies Traynor in Halifax, said: “BNI is a networking group which is very formalised and focused.
“Everyone looks after everyone else. We look out for opportunities to refer business to each other and act as each other’s sales force to help provide leads and contacts during these difficult times.
“In previous years, our chapter has produced £1m in business for members. This year, we have topped £2m.”
Said Mr Sargent: “Besides providing referrals and general networking, members also get training in basic business skills such as presenting and making a sales pitch to potential buyers.
“There is also the fellowship which comes through membership.
“For anyone who has run their own business, it is like running a marathon every day. You are on your own. But BNI means there is a group of people supporting you.”
The meetings kick-off at 6.30am at Huddersfield Rugby Union Club. The formal part of the meetings begin just before 7am and the event finishes about 8.30am. Existing members get a minute to give their sales pitch while every week one member has five minutes to give an extended presentation. New members get two minutes to explain about themselves and their business.
Visitors are welcome to BNI meetings and new members can join if their category of business is available. Members range from sole traders to plcs.
Mr Sargent said his job as an insolvency practitioner often had negative connotations, but added: “Being with BNI means I’m taking part in something positive and helping businesses to succeed.”