Professional Business Networking Group awarded Newtorking Group of the Month February 2018
Partnering with Businesses to Promote Your Business
PBN Networking Group of the Month February 2018
Truly effective networking doesn’t happen by just handing out business cards or making your elevator speech in an elevator. It involves hobnobbing with fellow entrepreneurs on a regular basis in a group setting.
That’s the premise of the Professional Business Networking Group, the Networking Group of the Month. Started by real estate broker Sandy Luedke in 2000, it meets every Wednesday around the lunch hour at her Ideal Real Estate Group office in Flower Mound.
Each PBN meeting attracts about 50-60 people from throughout Dallas-Fort Worth working in a widely diverse array of small businesses. There are mortgage brokers, financial advisors, and insurance salespeople; beauty product and health food consultants; roofers and other tradesmen, and one business that dresses men including former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and Fox-TV analyst Troy Aikman. There’s even been one that promotes adult romantic toys. Many learn of PBN from friends at other networking groups.
What attendees are saying…
“I try to come every single week if I can,” said Michelle Shaffer, a North Texas consultant for Royaltie Gems, a company that creates marketing messages broadcast to nearby Android phones. “It’s just awesome doing the one-on-ones, meeting all the different people, exchanging referrals. It’s been awesome. It’s been good contacts here, good people here.”
Shaffer, who started her business in August, comes to PBN as often as possible which she said has helped grow her business.
Melody Balkon of Hair Today Gone Tomorrow electrolysis has felt the same way in her four years with PBN.“It gives me a bigger pool of people to tell about our business,” she said. “It’s helped me get new business.”
Jeff Klein has been driving 50 miles round trip to attend PBN meetings for 10 years.
“I get a lot of referrals but you have to know how to do it,” said Klein, whose Speaker Co-Op arranges speakers and trainers to meet various needs. “I have a lot of clients in the room now and I get introductions to the people they know which is what it is all about.”
“I get a lead here and there,” said Ruben Cisneros, owner of Grapevine-based Computer Repairs DFW who provides on-site computer repairs. He was introduced to the group by Bill Mayrath, owner of Mayrath Video Solutions.
Talking to those attending the Jan. 31 meeting, when the award was given, it is obvious PBN makes people feel welcome to where they want to become members. It allows businesses to partner with other businesses to promote their businesses.
Tom Muench, who recently became a franchise owner of Expedia Cruiseship Centers, attended his first meeting and found it most helpful. He asked for references on architects to help him build his retail location in Flower Mound and also sought people interested in becoming travel consultants.
“It’s similar to some other ones. It’s a larger group which is nice because many others are like 15 people so it’s definitely a larger network,” said Muench, who previously was in advertising and computer software.
“I see that as beneficial because it was not a form of networking I did before in the corporate world I was calling on Fortune 500 companies. It wasn’t a Flower Mound or Denton County type of business. It wasn’t the right audience. Being a local business now, I see people in the grocery store or wherever and can start recognizing faces.”
Luedke was working for another real estate firm when she first became involved in networking groups.
“I needed something to do things for real estate. It actually was my manager at Remax who asked me to start a group and I said ‘no, I’m going to get up in front of people,’ the 33-year real estate veteran said. “In fact, my first meeting I wouldn’t even get up and do a 30-second spot. Now I lead a group.”
Luedke’s boss put her in touch with Mark Washam, a Farmers’ Insurance agent who said he’s run a networking meeting if she could secure people to come. She convinced 10 business owners to visit a small diner in Carrollton and her networking career began.
She started a different group in Lewisville several years later, then another in North Dallas before launching PBN in Coppell. After 13 years there and a couple of years at another spot, she found the current location near her Flower Mound home.
She’s owned Ideal Real Estate for about 15 years but just moved into the Flower Mound location about a year ago so she could have a meeting room built to host the PBN sessions.
How does it work?
Luedke’s mantra for the group is the four Rules of Seven:
1. Bring Seven Guests
2. Be There Seven Times
3. Engage in Seven One-on-One Meetings
4. Refer Seven Other Entrepreneurs
Anyone completing those tasks is eligible to become a member. Though there are no membership fees, being a member can reduce the weekly meeting fee from $15 to $10. It also allows the chance to make a presentation in front of the group, to advertise on the pbnetworking.com website, pass out brochures, send weekly emails and become a meet-up sponsor. There are also options to earn category exclusivity.
For example, I sell an average of 1-2 houses a month just off this group. When you look at that, at the end of the year, my past clients are my No. 1 resource, then it’s PBN, then it’s advertising. So I put a lot into this group but get a lot out of it.”
“The whole thing is if you network with enough people and come every week and get 10 leads a week and that turns into a sale, word of mouth is amazing if you understand how it works,” Luedke said.
PBN attendees began arriving around 11 a.m. when they sit down with other individuals to explain their business. They then partake in the lunch followed by announcements by Luedke before opening the floor to introduce guests and first-time attendees. Members then present their 30-second pitch followed by thank yous and referrals. Some meetings even feature a guest speaker such as March 14 when former television newsperson and current marketing guru Jeff Crilley visits.
Whether a new business like Muench’s or more established like Luedke’s, networking takes work but thanks to Professional Business Networking Group, it also can be fun.