New group offers networking

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 2, 2001

Want to succeed in business? The truth is networking may be the key to success and Kevin Sullivan can show you how.

Monday, April 02, 2001

Want to succeed in business? The truth is networking may be the key to success and Kevin Sullivan can show you how.

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Sullivan is president of the new Austin chapter of Business Network International.

If you have ever heard the theory that every person knows 300 people, then you will understand the idea behind BNI. BNI connects individuals from businesses in a particular geographic area and then stresses the company’s philosophy: "By giving business to others, you will get business in return." BNI believes word of mouth is the most cost-effective means of advertising and it aims to connect people to each other.

BNI’s headquarters are located in San Dimas, Calif. Ivan Misner, author of "The World’s Best Known Marketing Secret, Seven Second Marketing and Business by Referral," founded the organization in 1985. His idea has spread internationally since then to places like Australia, China and Japan.

According to information provided by Sullivan, "the organization generated over 1.7 million referrals for members’ businesses in 2000 alone, which generated $604 million worth of business for its members."

Sullivan works at the Mower County Shopper and has worked there for a year and a half. He originally is from Michigan.

Through a contact in Rochester, Sullivan joined the organization and became the leader of the Austin group. Sullivan conducted four meetings with members prior to the official kickoff day on March 14. The group meets at Johnny’s Main Event Restaurant at 7 a.m. every Wednesday.

To date, Sullivan said the local organization has 15 members. However, "I think that number will double or triple in the next year," he said. His goal is to bring 45 people into the group.

"We are passing an average of 15 referrals per week," he said. "That’s really strong for just starting."

Marie Jones of Bunker Realty is the vice president and Suzann Herr of Webb Studios is the secretary and treasurer. Tony Dooley of Usem Inc. is the visitor host and Derek Nelson from Home Federal Savings Bank is the education coordinator.

BNI stresses attendance and participation and holds members to general and administrative policies. In addition, a standard agenda is outlined for use by all BNI chapters.

Members of the organization abide by a code of ethics, that include: "I will provide the quality of service at the prices that I have quoted" and "I will build good will and trust among members and their referrals."

Only one employee per business is allowed to join BNI, and they do not have to be an owner or manager of the business, Sullivan said. Dues are paid on a six-month or one- and two-year basis. A six-month membership costs $150, one year costs $240 and two years costs $375.

Anyone interested in becoming a member should contact Sullivan by phone or come to one of the meetings. "Visitors are always welcome," he said.

Sullivan can be contacted by calling 437-7731. BNI headquarters can be reached by calling (800) 825-8286.

Call Kevira Mertha at 434-2233 or e-mail her at