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Networking group kicks off in New Richmond

The Network New Richmond group began meeting about three weeks ago, providing members with opportunities to develop new leads and get to know other business people. Pictured (clockwise from front left) are Jennifer Dietzler, Darcie Rochon, Greg Tellijohn, Allen Lewerer and Mike Giese

A new networking and referral group has started up locally, thanks to the New Richmond Area Chamber of Commerce.

"Network New Richmond" started meeting about three weeks ago at 7:30 a.m. every Wednesday. The meeting location has rotated among various spots in the city, but eventually the group will decide on one location where they will meet.

According to Greg Tellijohn, who was appointed coordinator for the group, the idea for "Network New Richmond" was borne out of the international business networking movement that has grown over the past three decades.

"The goal is to create more business for everybody," Tellijohn said. "We're trying to promote local business ... that's what it's all about. It's a proven formula."

Mike Giese, who works with WESTconsin Credit Union, said referral business is an important part of a successful business.

"You can't just sit and wait for somebody to come to you," he said. "Networking and referrals is the key to success."

Darcie Rochon, owner of Fantastic Sams in New Richmond, said networking helps to develop a bond of trust among the group participants, and hopefully leads to more customers.

"It helps to develop a relationship with people," she said. "If you personally know someone, you feel more comfortable recommending them to someone. If you know the person and how they run their business, you're more likely to send people to them."

Tellijohn, owner of Digital Garage in Hudson, said he's a member of a similar business networking group in Hudson and it works well for him.

He was also part of the former Motivational Marketing Group in New Richmond, but that effort died several years ago due to a lack of organizational structure. The new group has a better chance of success, Tellijohn said, because it's part of the New Richmond Area Chamber of Commerce. Network New Richmond participants must be Chamber members, but otherwise there is no charge to be involved in the group.

"Anybody can visit at any time," Tellijohn said, "but to be part of the group you have to be part of the Chamber."

Tellijohn said the ultimate goal of Network New Richmond is to strengthen the local economy, boost the profits of participating businesses and attract a diverse mix of businesses to the community.

"Hopefully everybody grows and makes New Richmond a better place," he said.

Each meeting of Network New Richmond starts with announcements of upcoming Chamber events and opportunities. Then each participating member is given 60 seconds for a commercial about his or her business.

After the opening minutes, one member of the group is designated the featured speaker and they talk about a topic in more depth.

At the close of the meeting, the participants exchange referrals and leads. The names that are exchanged may be family, friends or customers they know who may need the services provided by another member of the group.

"A lot of people are intimidated by networking," Rochon said. "But we try to help everyone overcome that."

Tellijohn said the New Richmond group isn't as intense as some referral organizations.

"We want to make it light and fun, with not too much structure," he said.

Network New Richmond currently has a core group of between six and 10 people attending. Tellijohn said the hope is to eventually grow to 20 or 25.

"That's the perfect sized group," he said.

Network New Richmond will be meeting at the Chamber office for the next two weeks, before deciding on a permanent location for its 7:30 a.m. Wednesday meetings.

Area business people are invited to attend and check the group o