The SBNG is a networking group that is not going to cost you an arm and a leg. It is a group where you get the opportunity to develop trusting business relationships with people in similar positions to you at various stages of their business's life. And because this is an association – we are focused on our members not a profit.
With it’s original foundation in 2003, The Small Business Networking Group originally started out as ‘Networking with a Twist’
Networking with a Twist was the brainchild of Christine Drakeford, who at the time was employed by the Federal Government under the Small Business Answers Program – an initiative that was set up by the Howard Government to assist small business in a number of ways, provide information, in particular to owners of micro-businesses.
The first meetings were held at the Ettalong Memorial Club, Foresters Beach Resort and Gosford and were free to attend.
Unlike business referral groups, the focus of the meeting was more about establishing and building relationships, sharing information and business tips, and also being a place where you could offload some of the challenges of running a business. You were not forced to make referrals or do business with other members but business usually happened as a by-product of attending.
In essence it was about forming friendships within business.
In 2007, four years after establishment, there was a change of Government. One of the first things that Labor set about doing was dismantling services for small and micro business – which was utter madness for regions such as the Central Coast where the majority of people are employed by small business.
The funding for Small Business Answers was cut in mid 2008 and Christine was made redundant. That also meant the end of the popular networking group.
A new beginning…
Not wanting the group to end, three of the original members suggested to Christine that we continue the networking group. So Mike Dwyer, Grant Pavett, Barry Parker and Christine tipped in some money each, and set up SBNG as an incorporated non-profit association with members paying a small annual membership fee.
Christine was paid a small amount to run the meetings and Grant, Mike and Barry became Chairman, Treasurer and Secretary.
They also made some changes. Forresters Beach was moved to Tuggerah and they set up an Erina chapter to take advantage of two of the key business places on the Central Coast.
When Christine entered into another employ, the committee decided to appoint patrons to run the meetings on a voluntary basis and also enter the committee.
Today, the focus is still on building relationships, making friends within business, sharing information, business tips, supporting one another. Our members come with no expectation of ‘scoring the next deal’, yet business and opportunity just seems to happen as a by-product of membership and regular attendance.
Many strong friends and business relationships have been made at SBNG. The group still continues to grow and SBNG is now the most popular professional networking group on the Central Coast.