Explore Muncie’s Diverse Business Networking Options
Writer / Aimee MacArthur
Photography / David Fennig
At any age in life, and at any point in a career or business, finding a networking group and making contacts is never easy. It can take a while to find the right business group worth the time and effort, and even longer to build dependable relationships. Fortunately, Muncie offers a handful of high-quality, vetted and trusted networking groups for owners who would like to expand their businesses.
Community Business Connections (CBC)
Jeshua Morgan, president of Asset Consulting & Safe Money Solutions, Inc., is a member and vice president of CBC, a networking group located in Muncie. CBC meets every Wednesday at noon. Morgan, who’s been a member of CBC since its beginnings in 2015, explains CBC’s origins. “It was an idea to get local businesses together to network to help each other out,” he says. “It was to help people build their businesses within the community.”
There are some requirements to become a member of CBC. They allow only one seat per profession or occupation, so there is not any competition between occupations. For example, there can only be one lawyer or one hair-salon owner in the group. Members can only miss one meeting per month. CBC allows members to send a designated substitute from their business in their place. Morgan recommends attending a few meetings to gain an overall understanding about CBC before completing a membership application. Annual membership dues are $75, and this amount is applied to renting the room for meetings. Any leftover funds are placed in an account used for acts of kindness to other members, such as sending flowers to a member who might be ill or recovering from surgery.
Morgan recommends patience when joining a networking group. “People do business with people whom they know, love and trust,” Morgan says. “You have to have the expectations right away that it takes time to build relationships. The expectations need to be set. The more you show your face, the more business you’re probably going to get over time.”
The CBC team envisions possible plans for expansion, with chapters in other cities. Morgan says joining CBC is an ideal way to meet others and help grow a business. “Many are spending thousands on marketing a year to people they don’t know,” he says. “Why not come join the group and get to know people that can open a door for you – a warm introduction. It’s not just about business, it’s about lifetime relationships. It’s a good opportunity for people to be a part of a fun, relaxed atmosphere, and they’re able to network and make business connections and lifelong friends.”
To learn more about CBC, visit their Facebook page at @cbcmuncie.
Business Network International (BNI)
If a business owner is looking to join a national networking group with chapters in Muncie, BNI might be the right fit.
Michele Owen, communications director for the City of Muncie, is the visitor coordinator and a member of one of BNI’s Muncie chapters, Cardinal Success. There are requirements to be a member of BNI, like CBC’s requirements. “They only allow one representative per industry in each chapter,” Owen says. “For example, you can only have one commercial real estate agent or one residential real estate agent, so there’s not competition within the group.”
There are meetings every Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. “You have to attend as many of the meetings as possible, or delegate a substitute to come if you can’t attend meetings,” Owen says. “There’s a basic conduct code that we all follow, representing our industries to the best of our ability and following all ethical guidelines, so that when we refer business to other people in the group, we know that those are high-quality referrals.”
Membership dues for BNI are considerably more than some other networking groups, but Owen believes the higher dues are worth the investment. “If you know that everybody is actually putting something into the experience, that they have something at stake, people are much more likely to show up, to be there on time, to really put in the work to give each other referrals, and to meet with the other members and really get as much value as possible,” she says.
Owen is pleased with her involvement in BNI and recommends joining Cardinal Success. “It’s a really trustworthy group,” Owen says. “I have always felt that if I refer any of my friends to somebody for services, I know that they’re going to be really well taken care of. It’s a great way to meet people who you’re able to help and who can help you in sometimes unexpected ways.”
For more information on BNI including membership dues, visit bni.com. Explore the Cardinal Success site at bni-indiana.com/in-central-cardinal-success, and visit their Facebook page @cardinalsuccessbni.
H.O.P.E. (Helping Other People Every Day)
For those looking to join a nonprofit networking group, Owen is a member of HOPE. “It’s more of a philanthropic group,” she says. “It’s actually a nonprofit 501(c)(3). We do fundraising events throughout the year to benefit other service organizations. We do volunteering events. It is a less structured group. We don’t have dues. It’s kind of a come-as-you-are organization. We organize about four fundraisers throughout the year and do some other community service with that. That’s also a great group of people.”
For more information about H.O.P.E., visit their Facebook page @hope.delawarecounty.
G.R.O.W. (Growing Remarkable Opportunities With Women)
For business owners trying to find a women’s networking group, there is a new group in Muncie called G.R.O.W. Brittany Scott, owner of a personal-training business in Muncie, co-founded G.R.O.W. with River Lin, owner of Zokawa yoga and meditation center in Muncie, and Katadyn Connerley, a real estate appraiser. “We all own our own businesses and we’re all kind of in the same spot in business life,” Scott says.
One factor that sets G.R.O.W. apart from other networking groups is that they hold members accountable for checking in on each other by setting and meeting individual goals. “One of the big things is accountability,” Scott says. “It’s great to say you have goals, but if there’s nobody checking in on you to see if you’re actually reaching them, they can just be the same thing week after week.”
G.R.O.W. holds meetings every Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. There is a $50 initiation fee to join G.R.O.W. and a $20 monthly membership fee. Members receive a toolkit, which is a binder filled with a year of accountability worksheets to write and maintain goal information, and handouts from the educational portion of each meeting.
Scott says G.R.O.W.’s members are thrilled to be a part of a women’s networking group and are looking forward to G.R.O.W.’s first workshop. “March 11, we’re going to hold our first intensive, which is going to be a one-day, eight-hour workshop on marketing,” Scott says.
Scott and her co-founders are excited about G.R.O.W.’s future. “We’d love to have branches of G.R.O.W. open up all over,” Scott says.