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BNI Business Networking, Reading

Monday, 21 May 2012
I've written elsewhere in this blog about BNI, the weekly business networking lunch in Reading town centre where I meet colleagues and share business opportunities.

But I've never really gone into any detail about what goes on at a meeting, so I thought this week I'd share a little snapshot of the agenda.

The core of every BNI meeting is the section where every member stands up for 60 seconds and tells the rest of the group a little bit about their business - what they have been doing this week and what makes them an expert in their field.

So here's a quick look at what the other people in my group had to say last Wednesday.

If you'd like to meet any of these people, then just get in touch with me and I'll make it happen. Or come along to a meeting at the Shehnai in London Street, Reading, from 12 till 2 on a Wednesday.

Robert Craigs of Mailboxes Etc said he was pleased this week that two customers described his print shop as "Large enough to cope, small enough to care". And he impressed us this week by bringing along a life-size cardboard cut-out of the Queen and a two-and-a-half metre party banner which are just a small part of his excellent-value Diamond Jubilee Party Pack, which costs just £99+VAT.

Laura de la Harpe is looking for introductions to female executives who would like to attend a two-day luxury retreat in Ascot this July called Wake Up and Love Your Life.

Mitch from AM Physio told us that the Olympic spirit must be in the air because he's seeing an increasing number of running-related injuries. He'd like to hear from anyone who has hurt themselves while running - he can fix you and more to the point he can advise you on how to stop it from happening again.

Deborah Heath announced that she's a regional finalist in the Design section of the International Property Awards. She'll be showcasing her interior design skills at a free champagne reception at the Lemongrove Gallery in Minster Street, Reading, this Saturday between 2pm and 4pm.

Amanda Aldred told us about a new customer of Big Yellow Self-Storage who had been let down by a rival local storage company. The lady in question had booked a forklift driver to receive a delivery, but the driver had not been able to come in to work. Amanda pointed out that all Big Yellow employees are qualified to drive a forklift.

Independent mortgage adviser Ben Sherville told us how he's been talking himself out of a commission. He met with a first-time buyer this week and the best deal he could find from his list of broker deals was 5.65%. When he looked into the same mortgages available direct from the lender, he found one for 4.39%, meaning that the customer would save £168 per month over the next two years. Undoubtedly he's one borrower who will come back to Ben in the future, knowing that he will always get an honest and independent review of his finances.

Bookkeeper Tracy Lewis warned us that any company that hasn't got its payroll year-end sorted out by this Sunday will have an instant £100 fine from HMRC.

Gary Martin of Sparkright Building Services promised that he'll give free building advice to anyone with questions about residential or commercial building. "You don't have to use us to get free advice," he said.

Photographer Claire Baggott remarked that three of her customers had commented this week that "time goes by so fast" and reminded us that a family photo shoot is a great way to treasure those precious moments, like special anniversaries or the arrival of a new baby, before they slip through our fingers.

Graphic designer Jon Baverstock is pleased to say that he's had successful talks with local water and building industry contractors Barnfield Engineering about designing a new logo and helping them open up new markets by developing their brand.

Mary Carter told us about two events next week being hosted by Business Fit Club, a training company that helps businesses unlock their potential. You can find out how they do it at a great value "taster day" on Tuesday at Henley Business School and again on Thursday in Twyford at Robertson House.

Social media marketing consultant Paul Allen asked us to take a look at the 28 independent recommendations he has received so far on his Linkedin profile and assured us that he charges a fraction of the rates asked by the big agencies to achieve great marketing results.

Lettings agent Sam Lee, who sent a substitute this week, used his 60 seconds to tell us that sometimes even the most complicated issues can be solved with good communications between landlords, agents and tenants - something they pride themselves on at Samuel James Properties.

Charlene Callender of Academy Insurance got a round of applause when she announced that she has been promoted to Renewals Manager at the Oxford Road branch.

Gary Thandi is looking for businesses with multiple premises because he can help them by saving them up to £500 a year on energy bills by moving to Utility Warehouse - and what's more they can have one bill for all their buildings, making their paperwork much, much simpler.

Independent financial adviser David O'Connor sent along his colleague Doug Cowan to talk about equity release. Being property-rich and cash-poor is a common problem at the moment, especially for older people, and David has been advising a client on how to use his property to generate cash to cover his living expenses and mitigate inheritance tax.

It's wedding season, according to Paul Sampson of Pangbourne florists Green Parlour (and he should know). He would like to hear from anyone who has just got engaged.

Russ Adlem from Caversham Coachworks is involved in the organisation of a vintage and classic car rally in Mapledurham on Saturday May 26th. If you have a classic or vintage car, scooter or bike and you'd like to show it off, he would like to hear from you.

We had three visitors today.

Barry Coxhead is a young sound engineer looking for opportunities. He has had some experience working in the theatre industry and he's also involved with hospital radio.

We had a visit from Colin Smith of Vectorsign. He is a BNI member from maidenhead and his company specialises in signage and vinyl coatings for glass. So whether it's a logo printed on a shop front or something to stop your conservatory from getting too hot in the summer, he's your man.

And we had a visit from Kathryn from The Kooky Cake Company, which makes cakes for weddings and occasions as well as cupcakes for commercial gifts and she promises prompt, free delivery to any address in Berkshire.

Our regular member Robin Thorn asked to be left till last, but very definitely not least. He devised a little quiz for us this week to help us pay more attention to his 60 second presentation about his company Great Wedding Entertainment. He hid a number of song titles in the wording and gave out a bottle of bubbly to Paul Allen who came closest to guessing the correct number - Robin had managed to shoe-horn 42 song titles into his 60 second presentation, which is no mean feat. And to make up for taking rather longer than 60 seconds of everyone's time, he donated a fistful of cash to Clare Franklin, who is raising funds for Guide Dogs for the Blind.