Strength in numbers: Networking group forms to help out Valley businesses
By ALLISON ESPIRITU
Snoqualmie Valley Record Reporter
March 9, 2010 · 4:45 PM
With the economy in sour times, Samantha Van Nyhuis is looking for ways to make lemonade out of lemons.
Van Nyhuis started the Small-Medium Business Networking Group to connect Snoqualmie Valley business owners so they can build relationships and help each other grow.
As owner of a Pre-Paid Legal Services office, Van Nyhuis, a Snoqualmie Ridge resident, knows networking can help her business and other local enterprises flourish.
The group meets at 7:30 a.m. every Tuesday for both men and women, and 10 a.m. Tuesdays for women only, at Isadora’s Cafe in downtown Snoqualmie.
Van Nyhuis welcomes any small-to-medium-sized business to join. She seeks a diverse group of members, and is inviting weekly speakers.
The Valley Record had a chance to ask Van Nyhuis a series of questions on her enterprise:
What is the goal of your network?
The goal is quite simple, it’s helping others. It’s to bring together the community and Valley businesses with the goal of growing each others businesses, but it always starts by helping our fellow man. I want this group to be known as a place for people to come and know they are always welcome. We are there to support, encourage, edify, educate and make a difference.
Why did you start the meetings?
Myself and a colleague, who has now moved to North Seattle, decided that network marketing was a great way to help others grow their business, which ultimately would help grow our businesses, too. We had attended other, similar groups and saw what it had done for them. They were dynamic business people who attended their own and other groups regularly, got to know each other, and were able to refer each other and use each others’ services.
How did you start the group?
The groups we selected to visit were all found through www.meetup.com. Our group is called FaFiN (Free & Flexible Networking). It requires a small monthly fee, but I decided to absorb the cost and offer the group to join for free. It’s an easy Web site to set up and if I can do it, anyone can.
Why is there a women-only group?
When the meetup group was in the planning stages, we felt that two different time slots were needed. One would be early in the morning at 7:30 a.m., for people who had a career/job, as well as those who ran a business and needed to open at a certain time. We also felt that there might be moms who had small children that needed to get off to school, and who had home-based businesses that needed to meet later, hence the 10 a.m. Along with that, we thought there might be women who felt more comfortable with a ‘women-only’ group.
How do businesspeople learn about the group?
We personally went to most of the businesses on the Ridge, as well as a lot in North Bend and downtown Snoqualmie, and invited the owners to our meetings. So far, none of them have attended, but maybe they don’t understand how an exchange of information can be beneficial to everyone involved.
What are the benefits?
People who make the commitment to regularly attend will meet one-on-one with others, make personal referrals and increase business. You do have to have the attitude of wanting to help the other person and take the initiative to get to know people. We have an incredible mixture of highly intelligent, captivating and high-energy people involved in this group.
What is discussed at the meet-ups?
I explain the philosophy of the group, the do’s and don’ts of the group, make any announcements to the group and then we take one to two minutes each to introduce our businesses. If we have a speaker, they speak for about 20 to 30 minutes.
What do you look for in speakers?
We would look for someone already in the business world as they have first hand experience and then a topic to help people who are in the small-medium both personal and corporate business world.
What is unique about your group?
I don’t know any other group that meets weekly. Most groups meet once a month. Also, I think ours is the only group that meets twice in one day, too. We really are striving to be flexible and give people of all walks of life an opportunity to come and take advantage of what we have to offer. We chose Isadora’s because they were willing to open early for us, offer freshly baked goodies, hot lattes and the best service. We have the whole place to ourselves and there is space to grow. It’s the perfect place.
To join the networking group, visit www.meetup.com and type in FaFiN, followed by the zip code 98065. For more information, e-mail Van Nyhuis at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (425) 922-8698.Contact Snoqualmie Valley Record Reporter Allison Espiritu at aespiritu@valleyrecord,com or 425-888-2311.