Friday, September 21, 2018

Local roots for BNI® Maine good for business by Lorraine Glowczak

Kelly and Niels Mank speak at an annual success training 
Most business owners and professionals would agree that the growth and success of their company is due, in large part, through their connections with others. Raymond residents and local business owners, Kelly and Niels Mank, have no doubts that their business successes are a direct result of networking with other professionals. For them, it was their active involvement in BNI®, an international membership-based business networking and marketing organization.

In fact, when Kelly joined BNI® Maine in 2006, Mank’s photography business grew by 100% for the next two years. This was followed by the growth of their printing company (Time4Printing) and the addition of the vehicle wrapping and commercial signage division (Time4Wrapz). Their businesses continue to grow exponentially.

It is for this reason the Manks recently purchased and became Executive Directors of BNI® Maine. The purpose of this acquisition is not just to gain another business venture, but more as a mission to help others succeed as they have.

Cumberland Fair“I attribute our professional and personal successes to our involvement with BNI®,” Kelly stated. “It now feels like a calling for me to help other small businesses succeed and assist people to meet their personal and professional goals. That’s the main reason why Niels and I decided to purchase BNI® Maine. Additionally, we also wish to grow our management and leadership skills.”

Cherri Crockett, Vice President of BNI® – Successful Business Partners in Norway agrees with Kelly’s self-assessment. “Kelly and Niels are so family and community oriented, THIS is their calling and their ticket to helping the rest of us grow.”

The concept of BNI® began in January 1985 in California by Dr. Ivan Misner who was looking for ways to increase clients for his personal consulting business. With the help of a few friends and associates, Misner created the first network gathering. Within a year, 20 BNI® chapters were established throughout California. Moving forward 33 years, one can find 8,500 BNI® chapters world-wide with 20 chapters and 450 members in Maine. Windham has one chapter and a new chapter is forming.

According to the website, the mission of BNI® is to help members increase their business through a structured, positive and professional referral marketing program that enables companies to develop long-term, meaningful relationships with quality business professionals. This occurs through weekly meetings and exclusive resources.

There our many core values that members of BNI® promote and these include the commitment to life-long learning, having a positive attitude, attending weekly meetings and taking accountability. But one core value that builds long-term success was explained by Dr. Misner in a recent interview.
“BNI®’s principle core value is ‘Givers Gain®’,” Misner began. “The idea is that if you help others by sending business their way, they’ll do the same for you. This is a concept that is predicated on building relationships, not focusing on transactions. One of the most important things I’ve discovered over the last 33 years is that networking is more about farming than it is about hunting.  It is about building long term meaningful relationships with other business professionals.”

With the ‘Givers Gain®” value by which BNI® members adhere, many professionals throughout Maine have also seen significant increase and growth in their businesses.

Michael Eric Berube, President of Profit Partners chapter stated that in eight years, he has reached a level of success that keeps him busy today and is ready to pay it forward.

“In 2010 I was working part time at a camera store for $12 per hour and trying to shoot weddings and portraits on the weekends in the attempt to feed my family of four,” he began. “With the great recession in full swing and advent of digital cameras, every mom and uncle with a DLSR decided to become a 'wedding photographer' and significantly cut into the market for my moderate price point. I was invited to be a substitute for a Graphics Designer at Profit Partners BNI® Chapter and seeing the positive energy of cooperative relationships in the room I went to the hall, called my dad and borrowed the money I needed to apply and I put in an application. My application was accepted and within a month of membership I received my first large referral and was able to pay my dad back for my first year of membership. Shortly after this, Ridge York, our Realtor in the Chapter introduced me to Real Estate Photography and helped set me up in the business. By 2013, I was so busy with my new business model that I had to quit the part time job and stopped photographing anything but Real Estate. Today, I routinely work with 4 subcontractors just to keep up with the work. Life is good. In 2017, I volunteered to be on the Ambassador and Director Team to be able to hopefully Pay Forward the help I received and to help others in turn achieve the same.”

David Brady of Kane Insurance who is a member of the BNI® Business Partners Chapter in Westbrook stated that in just two years of joining BNI®, he had experienced a significant financial growth. “Through contacts and referrals, I went from $60,000 profit in my first year to $100,000 in the second year.”

The professional growth that BNI® members experience also transform into their personal lives, helping to reach individual dreams and goals.

Mary Emerson, Office Manager of Time4Printing, stated that she cannot say enough about how BNI® has impacted her life. “Every Friday after I leave my weekly meeting I feel so truly happy and energized. Just very ready to take on the day. Everyone is so like-minded and truly wants to see each other’s businesses prosper. Plus, everyone is so positive and optimistic that it is infectious. BNI® has also really helped me strengthen my relationships with friends and family! Every member in the group trains you to listen for key things that could lead to possible referrals.  I love how my friends and family know they can come to me when they are looking for a trusted business professional."

But despite all the successes BNI® members experience, both Kelly and Niels admit that this organization is not necessarily for everyone. “If you are in a profession where you are a solo-prenuer and/or sole proprietor who intentionally wants to remain in that capacity, a BNI® membership is probably not the best fit for you,” Niels explained. “However, if you are reaching for a growth plan that would include increasing staff and/or number of company vehicles, then BNI® can help you reach your business goals.”

Both Kelly and Niels have an excitement for life, business and helping others succeed. Their enthusiasm shows and is catching. BNI® members state-wide and beyond are looking forward to their leadership.

“Their passion for business shows in their daily work, not only with their businesses, but with their children and community,” stated Crockett. “I love that they are teaching their children the value of smart business and commitment to seeing a project through. THIS is exactly how the rest of us will benefit from their new roles, sharing their values and having the integrity to see the rest of us to succeed, in a way that works for Maine businesses.”

Misner, too, is excited by Maine’s future. “I helped to launch the operation in Maine several decades ago and it has been exciting to see its growth there over the years. I have the utmost faith in the Mank’s to continue to serve the BNI® members and the general business community throughout Maine.”

For more information about BNI®, visit the website at or call 207-894-7200.

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