Groups help make sales contacts |

Groups help make sales contacts

Ron Tillotson

Two professional organizations in northern Nevada provide a forum where salespeople can meet weekly to exchange business tips, leads and referrals.

Acting like structured business support groups to help businesses grow, both have hundreds of chapters and thousands of members worldwide.

And there are several chapters to choose from in northern Nevada.

The oldest organization is LeTip, founded in 1978.

Its web site is

Four local chapters each meet weekly from 7:01 to 8:31 a.m.

The other is Business Network International (BNI) founded in 1985.

There are eight local chapters, with three new ones forming.

All BNI chapters meet from 7 to 8:30 a.m.

Members in both organizations are provided access to potential clients via tips they receive from other members.

And members identify themselves and their product or service at each weekly meeting by individually presenting a “commercial,” which allows them to stand up and give a concise description of the benefits and features of their business.

LeTip members give a 30- second “commercial” and BNI members give a 60-second “commercial.” Each LeTip member can display his or her product at a designated meeting on a predetermined schedule.

Individual presentations can also occur at BNI chapter meetings.

Members of both organizations enjoy the fact that once they join a chapter, their competitors are prohibited from joining the same chapter.

BNI requires that members be fulltime business owners or employees.

Andy Hill, owner of Live Compass, a career business and life purpose coaching service in Reno, is the vice president of LeTip’s Southwest Reno chapter.

He said members are encouraged to give four tips a month.

“We presently have about 25 members in our chapter and our goal is 40 members by year end,” he said.

LeTip chapter members must vote to approve all new members.

If accepted into a chapter, new members pay a onetime $310 national membership fee, and a $65 local chapter fee.

In addition, a quarterly fee varies with each chapter.

This covers the cost of the breakfasts and room rental.

Most chapters do not allow refunds for missed meetings.

However, members can have a “qualified substitute” attend up to six meetings per year for them, but never two consecutive meetings.

“A ‘qualified substitute’ must be a member of the same business,” said Hill.

He added that this rule is discretionary because there can be extenuating circumstances.

BNI members are expected to actively participate, and allowing a substitute to attend in their place prevents an absence from being recorded.

Both organizations encourage members to bring guests to meetings, but unlike BNI, LeTip uses a “monetary reinforcement” method of motivating its members to pass tips and bring guess.

They are assessed a fee of $1 for not passing a tip, and 25 cents for failure to bring a guest.

BNI charges a one-time fee of $75 to join, plus a chapter membership fee of $180 for six months, $265 for a year, or $415 for two years.

Also, members may be required to help pay for the cost of breakfast and the meeting room.

According to BNI’s web site,, it “… provides a positive, supportive, and structured environment for men and women to further their business through word-of-mouth marketing.” Members and guests of both organization spend the first 15 minutes of a meeting networking with each other by introducing themselves and sharing information about each other’s business.

A business meeting, including “commercials,” follows.

Dan Forbush, owner of the Reno accounting firm Forbush and Associates, is president of BNI’s Sierra Reno Chapter.

He said his chapter averages 100 to 140 business referrals a month among its 28 members.

“Givers will gain,” he said, which means the more referrals a member passes on to other members typically results in more business for the giver.

He said high ethical standards are maintained and if members fail to meet these standards, they can be removed from the chapter.

LeTip also has a similar rule.

“BNI is for farmers, not hunters,” Forbush said, explaining that it takes more than attendance at one meeting to see results.

“First you must plant the fruit tree, water it, fertilize it, and then soon you can harvest the fruit,” he added.

Chapter Venues and Contacts LeTip Sparks – Kraig’s Restaurant, 430 N.

McCarran Blvd., Sparks; Thursdays; Ron Weber, president; Tel.

345-2785; email:

Reno – Holiday Inn, 1000 E.

6th St., Reno; Wednesdays; Stan Mentzer, president; Tel.

329-5523; email:

Truckee Meadows – Meadowood Courtyard, 5851 S.

Virginia St., Reno; Thursdays; G.

Douglas Voelz, president; Tel.

355-1100; email:

Southwest Reno – Meadowood Courtyard, 5851 S.

Virginia St., Reno; Tuesdays; Dennis Yoder, president; Tel.

853-8160; email:

Business Network International NOTE: Venue changes can occur and, thus, are not shown.

Contact Kurt Gottschalk, BNI’s associate director for northern Nevada and nNorthern California, at 775- 747-5966, or 775-848-4091 (cell), for further information.

BNI is presently forming new chapters in South Lake Tahoe, North Lake Tahoe/Truckee, and Fernley.

The following chapters meet at separate locations on Tuesday mornings: Minden/Gardnerville and Truckee Meadows Wednesday mornings: Sierra Reno, Reno, and Sparks Thursday mornings: South Reno, Carson City, and South Meadows.


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