Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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December 27, 2009

Groups combine business networks

Organization touts merits of word-of-mouth marketing to boost sales

Two professional networking organizations are combining efforts to help local businesses.

Central Indiana Business Network International and Rainmakers recently announced a collaborative effort to promote local businesses.

The Pillar Program, which began this month, will allow individual business owners to network across BNI and Rainmakers, as well as local chambers of commerce, to promote their companies in a more efficient manner while providing more potential for company growth.

Not only will this serve business owners, said Rebeca Simpson Holloway, public relations representative of BNI, but it could also boost sales and help improve the local economy.

In the past, Simpson said, the three organizations used separate networking strategies. Now with the Pillar Program, all the organizations can work together for “cross-networking.”

“It is an efficient way of networking for business owners for them to increase their sales,” said Simpson.

And it’s all accomplished by word-of-mouth marketing.

“BNI’s professional networking organization provides local business owners the resources to change the way they do business and increase sales through word-of-mouth marketing,” said Central Indiana’s BNI Executive Director Hazel Walker. “It only makes sense to collaborate with other prominent business organizations and give our members even more opportunities to grow.”

In addition to increased business-growth potential, members of Rainmakers, BNI and the local chambers will receive a window placard displaying their involvement in the Pillar Program.

Rainmakers, which is based in Indianapolis, but it has chapters in Ohio and Kentucky, is a business-to-business professional networking organization. It provides a platform for Indiana business professionals to be more and serve more, said Nikki Lewallen, a Rainmakers’ vice president.

One Kokomo Rainmakers chapter meets the first Tuesday of each month at Half Moon Restaurant and the newest chapter — started in October — meets on the third Wednesday each month at Rozzi’s Catering, said Tanisha Hall, chair of Kokomo 2.

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