More than 200 people in the Pittsburgh area joined thousands of people throughout the world in celebration of the key role that networking plays in the development and success of businesses. Events were held globally to celebrate International Networking Week.

Sponsored by BNI Western PA, the city’s Fourth International Networking Day featured keynote speaker networking guru, Debby Peters, a Certified Networker and contributing author of the bestseller Masters of Networking and Masters of Sales, and Founder of Sales. Peters showed participants how to transition “From Network Dating to Network Dollars.”

MAKING CONNECTIONS— Deborah Lanier and Tracy Baulding network with Roosevelt Dalton, one of many vendors during the area’s Fourth Annual International Networking Day.

Breakout sessions for the local event held at the Radisson in Greentree included “Sorry Mom…I’m Talkin’ to Strangers” by Michelle R. Donovan and “Social Studies: Practical Online Marketing in the Social Realm” by Pam Peters and Anne Fleming. Tom and Peter’s “Excellent Networking Adventure (The Good,” “The Bad, and the Ugly)” was presented by Tom Reda and Peter Bruening.

As the owner and Director of Training for Certified Networker of Ohio, Peters has assisted more than 500 people develop relationships that have a return on investment. During her presentation she suggested that when networking it is important to plan before the engagement, to be specific as to why networking, to have an agenda, to know what you want to get out of the network event and to have an agreement for the next steps. She indicated that it is not the quantity but the quality when it comes to meeting people and collecting business cards.

First time attendees, Tracy Baulding, Crystal Bynum, and Deborah Lanier concurred that the event enabled them to follow the programs’ theme, Building Bridges, Making Connections. “I’m here to make connections,” says Bynum vice president of development of Bynums Marketing & Communications, Inc. “I’m looking for companies that want their companies to grow.

Both Baulding and Lanier attended the February International Networking Day with hopes to learn the latest practices and best strategies for networking. Baulding operates Integrated Resource Solutions Consulting and Laneir owns LaParrish Cruisers.

An initiative of BNI International, the focus of events held nationwide during International Networking Week were to bring together representatives of government, businesses and the community to network with each other, to understand the concept of good networking and to listen to talks by key networking specialists from across the world. According to organizers like local hostess Deanna Tucci Schmitt the speakers offered advice and information on ways businesses can grow and succeed through good networking practices. Aiming to assist participants in building relationship bridges, Schmitt said, “Our event was designed for partakers to make the right connections, for businesses and organizations to seize the opportunity to take off their cold-calling hard hats, and trade them for the soft caps of referrals.”

Labeled as the largest business referral organization globally, BNI is defined as a business referral organization whose primary purpose is to assist its members to find and exchange qualified business referrals for each other and develop effective word-of-mouth marketing techniques. It is said to provide its members with a professional structure and an on-going training system, enabling members to network in a deliberate and focused manner to produce tangible results.

Founded by author and senior partner for the Referral Institute in 1985, in 2005 BNI is said to possess a worldwide membership of over 4.4 million qualified referrals worth an estimated $1 billion.

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