A Kendal business networking group is helping its members with support and advice during this difficult time.
BNI (Business Network International) is a professional networking organisation, where members meet weekly for breakfast and help each other to find new business by making referrals.
The Kendal Chapter has 22 members, representing a range of businesses. They include an architect, financial manager, solicitor, electrical contractor and personal travel consultant.
In the past 12 months the Kendal Chapter has generated £864,218 worth of invoiced business through referrals between its members and its aim is to reach £1 million in a single year.
“Usually members meet face-to-face at a weekly meeting at the Castle Green Hotel in Kendal but obviously during the current situation that is not possible,” explained Alasdair Ross, Executive Director of BNI Cumbria.
“Instead the chapter is now meeting online so that members can maintain their relationships.”
Members have been offering practical advice to each other about how to adapt their businesses and passing on experiences of dealing with furlough issues and applying for grants. They have also been able to offer supportive words and help for those whose businesses have been particularly affected.
Last weekend BNI member John Sherlock completed a 26-miles marathon on a treadmill in his Kendal garage, which has so far raised £1380.63, including gift aid, for Cumbria Alcohol and Drug Advisory Service (CADAS). Kendal BNI members helped to promote the sponsored challenge to help John beat his £1,000 target.
“BNI is a nurturing and supportive network,” said Mr Ross.
“Now, more than ever, providing a community for our members and their colleagues, clients and friends is important as staying connected to the physical community has become so challenging.
“While many BNI members’ businesses are or will be impacted, meeting through the BNI OnlineTM system provides an excellent opportunity to continue to help members to find referrals and grow members’ businesses.”
He added: “The BNI-U online learning platform provides a vast quantity of material, including from world-renowned business gurus through the delivery of additional training and development opportunities for the members.”
Kendal Chapter Secretary Alan Jewitt said BNI members were supporting and helping each other at this time.
“Running a business can be quite lonely at the moment, particularly if people have had to furlough staff,” said Mr Jewitt, whose company SYPO has a team of web and technical specialists who help design and create websites for clients.
“Most of the BNI members have their own businesses and having that community of people who understand the issues you are going through is amazing.
“With BNI having moved online it’s now easier for members to meet up more often and offer each other advice and support.”
The Kendal chapter is keen to attract visitors so they can find out more about its activities. BNI meetings are free to attend while they are being held online. Anyone interested should contact Alasdair Ross on [email protected] or 078866 250690.
There are also BNI groups at Carlisle and Barrow and starter groups at Ulverston and Windermere.