A business network which supported more than 200 businesses to continue to win business during three Covid-19 lockdowns is now opening up face-to-face meetings again and is launching new groups across Staffordshire.
BNI held weekly meetings online for much of 2020 and 2021, allowing member companies to continue to work together and pass business referrals.
But several groups have now resumed weekly face-to-face meetings with some meetings being held at new venues, including Newcastle-under-Lyme Golf Club and Stafford Rugby Club.
Meanwhile, BNI Staffordshire is launching new groups throughout the county in areas including Burslem, Endon and Lichfield, with two further groups being offered for online only networking.
Tony Altham, Executive Director, BNI Staffordshire, said: “It’s been a tough 2020 and 2021 for many businesses, but we are proud to have kept BNI running, supporting our members and allowing them to pass more than £11.6 million in business.
“Referrals and cooperative working are the lifeblood of Staffordshire’s small and medium sized companies and the survival of these SME enterprises is crucial to the local economy.
“Following a ruling from our parent body, BNI International, we were able to offer each of our Staffordshire groups the chance to vote on returning to weekly face-to-face networking. Three groups in North Staffordshire are now back to full face-to-face meetings, with two more holding test meetings.”
Face-to-face networking closed down completely in the UK in March 2020 and similar decisions were taken at BNI across the globe.
Some groups have now elected to change their meeting place, for example, BNI Britannia and BNI Victory have moved to Newcastle Golf Club, while the Stafford group has become a hybrid group, with some meetings online and others at the town’s rugby club.
BNI James Brindley has returned to its former venue, Hotel Rudyard, Staffordshire Moorlands.
Added Tony: “BNI Staffordshire wants to support businesses as they bounce back from the pandemic lockdowns, so we are adding additional groups. Work is underway to launch a group to be known as BNI Mother Town in Burslem, at a venue, which has still to be chosen. We’re also establishing a presence in Lichfield, with a launch group called BNI Lich Vegas.
“The new online only groups are also area based, as it is important that members are able to meet outside of the weekly meetings. The Stafford Samurai group has already made a strong start and we are also preparing to launch the online Newcastle Ninjas group.
“Not only is BNI good for our members, it provides a weekly income for the venues we use.
“We inevitably shed some members during the lockdowns, but others joined meeting on our dedicated BNI Zoom channel every week and there’s been many success stories.
“The return to face-to-face is proving popular and groups are beginning to grow back membership. Companies looking to join us can find out more by visiting the BNI Staffordshire website at https://bnistaffordshire.co.uk/en-GB/index.
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