Atlantic Referral Exchange BNI Chapter is Helping Local Businesses Grow and Succeed

By Cary Shuman

Each Thursday morning at the Lynn Museum local business owners and leaders are getting the word out about their businesses at a meeting of the Atlantic Referral Exchange BNI Chapter.

Jim Reece, president of the Atlantic Referral Exchange BNI Chapter, said the Lynn-based chapter was founded a decade ago by a group of business people “looking to better their business relationships through referral networking.”

The chapter’s goals are being reached: BNI members on average increase their business 20 percent in the first year.

“We’ve been meeting every Thursday for the last 10 years,” said Reece, who is the sales and marketing manager at Welch Florist in Lynn. “We just moved to the Lynn Museum in the past year.”

Reece said the weekly meetings bring familiarity and visibility to the members and the referrals help their businesses succeed. Reece said what is unique about BNI is that it only allows one person per profession in the chapter.  For example, Reece is the only florist in the group.

“That way there’s no competition with each other in the room,” said Reece. “Each member gives a 60-second presentation/commercial and two members give a 10-minute presentation to elaborate on their businesses and how we can generate referrals for them.”

Teresa Sarno, branch manager at Eastern Bank and the president of the Lynn Area Chamber of Commerce, has bolstered the chapter’s presence in the community with her support and commitment to the group. Sarno serves as the liaison between the LACC and the Atlantic Referral Exchange.

“We have a great relationship with [LACC President and CEO] Leslie Gould, Teresa Sarno and the LACC and it works very well for us on both sides,” said Reece.

Currently there are 34 members in the Atlantic Referral Exchange BNI Chapter. In addition to the weekly meetings, the chapter attends and sponsors numerous networking events throughout the year. It also holds “Visitor Days” for prospective members.

Reece said the chapter has helped Welch Florist grow as a business.

“The chapter has not only been helpful to the business itself but to me personally,” said Reece. “I came in to the florist business from a plumbing and heating background and I didn’t know how to network or go out and market the store. But getting up in front of the other members and speaking every week – it’s a great learning tool to speak in front of a room of strangers, get to know them, and acquire knowledge about how they can help you in your business.”

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