The conversations start slowly this Wednesday morning as business men and women filter into the upstairs community room at the Bettendorf Hy-Vee store, grabbing a seat at the perimeter of a square-shaped table formation.
Gripping disposable cups or insulated metal containers of coffee, those attending the April 24 session of Good Morning Bettendorf quickly ramp up conversations about what’s going on in their companies and the latest news in the community. People wave to each other across the table.
Those early discussions are a big part of the networking charm that makes the monthly event sponsored by the Bettendorf Business Network so popular.
“Every time I come here, it’s different,” says Kristin Frymoyer, co-owner and director of finance, new business development and marketing at Frymoyer Stone & Fabricating in Bettendorf.
“New people are coming all the time. It’s a good way to market your business. You also get different ideas,” she said.
Richard Pokora, vice president of the Bettendorf Business Network, said the Good Morning Bettendorf group began in December 2017, and it grew quickly in size. Generally, there are between 30 and 40 participants at each session.
“We moved to the Middle Road Hy-Vee community room in January 2018 to accommodate more participants and have easy and inexpensive access to breakfast,” he said. “We are grateful to Hy-Vee for their support of our efforts.”
The meeting format is the same every month. The first half hour, starting at 8 a.m., is for breakfast and conversation.
“It’s an opportunity to have a sustained conversation with other participants,” Pokora said.
Mark Carlson, business development director at Blaze Restoration Inc., said the conversations at Good Morning Bettendorf meetings help build strong relationships between businesses.
At 8:30, there is a 15-minute presentation on a topic of business interest. In April, Ryan Harmsen of No Coast Social, a full-service marketing agency, discussed how to assess the cost and effectiveness of different types of advertising and marketing.
After the presentation, each person sitting around the table has the opportunity to introduce themselves and their products and services. Some make pitches for charitable events with which they are involved. Business cards and brochures are passed around.
Connie Mangler, a Realtor with Exit Realty Fireside, said this aspect of Good Morning Bettendorf is very important.
“This is the first networking event where everyone that attends gets to speak about their business so that we all hear each time what they do. It helps us to keep mindful of leads for them,” she said.
As the business people describe what they do, there’s an occasional shout-out from someone in the room who can attest to having used their services and giving an on-the-spot testimonial about the good experience they had.
After Doug Foderberg from Lange Sign Group gives his pitch, several in attendance note they have noticed the digital message centers his company has installed at several locations in the community.
“They are an incredibly effective marketing tool,” Foderberg said.
Pokora said Good Morning Bettendorf is for individuals who want to bring their unique goods and services to the Bettendorf business community.
He notes there is no charge to attend and no requirement to become a contributing member of the Bettendorf Business Network. But those who are interested in becoming a contributing member can check out the organization’s Facebook page. The nominal membership fees are on a sliding scale depending on the size of the business.
Mangler credits Pokora with his leadership in keeping the networking event thriving.
“I have been involved with many (tip clubs) and this group by far is the best,” she said. “I have received many leads from gaining the trust of my fellow group members.”