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Town group generates thousands of pounds of business for members during lockdown

PUBLISHED: 12:20 01 May 2020 | UPDATED: 12:20 01 May 2020

From left, Diss BNI members Martin Cobbald, president, Owen Couperthwaite, vice president, and Paul Campbell, secretary treasurer (pictured before lockdown)  Picture: ANGELA DOY

From left, Diss BNI members Martin Cobbald, president, Owen Couperthwaite, vice president, and Paul Campbell, secretary treasurer (pictured before lockdown) Picture: ANGELA DOY

Owen Couperthwaite, Diss BNI

A town group based on mutual support has already generated thousands of pounds of business for its members during the coronavirus lockdown.

From left, Martin Cobbald (president of Diss BNI), Sonia Browne, Mayor of Diss, Owen Couperthwaite  (vice president), Paul Campbell (secretary treasurer)  Picture: ANGELA DOYFrom left, Martin Cobbald (president of Diss BNI), Sonia Browne, Mayor of Diss, Owen Couperthwaite (vice president), Paul Campbell (secretary treasurer) Picture: ANGELA DOY

The Business Networking International (BNI) Chapter in Diss has continued to operate, providing vital leads to help its members after re-shaping itself to cope with the crisis.

New president Martin Cobbald – who is boss of Dealey Pest Control – said members of the word-of-mouth business referral organisation continued to look and listen out for business opportunities for members.

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“Usually we meet at Diss Corn Hall to network and pass business to each other. The lockdown coincided with my new role as president for the group and our first challenge as the leadership team for the group was to recreate our weekly business meetings online,” he said.

The new format has proved to be an instant success, with members generating more than £21,000 worth of business for each other in one week alone.

“I am not surprised by our members’ resilience and continued commitment to each other in these uncertain times – but I am delighted,” said Mr Cobbald.

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“Our members have worked hard to see how they can be of service to each other, customers and our community in these challenging times.”

BNI was founded by Ivan Misner in the US in 1985 and how has about 8,800 chapters around the world.

Members of the Diss chapter have been providing support to the community too. Mortgage consultant Paul Campbell of Mortgage Response, decided to waive its usual fees for NHS workers during this crisis, while another member, Roger Dukes of GM Autotech in Harleston, is prioritising work on key workers’ vehicles to ensure they can get to work.

Secretary treasurer Paul Campbell admitted it had been “no small feat” getting the new system up and running, but it was now “easier than ever” for members to attend meetings from home.

Mr Cobbald said the BNI’s support from an international business community had always been there for the Diss Chapter, but it had “really kicked in” during the crisis, with the organisation providing world-class training and mentoring to help members to protect and even grow their businesses in a time of global uncertainty.

Vice president Owen Couperthwaite said: “We have received so much coaching, mentoring and support which has been incredible for our business members. It has been so useful seeing what other very successful business owners have been doing to thrive during these difficult times.

“We are all facing the same challenges and we are all pulling each other through not just to survive the outbreak but to thrive despite it.”

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