Tuesday, August 17, 2010

SpotLight On: The Bridge Networking Group

The Bridge Networking Group was founded by Cathy Daniels and Michele Andre October 17, 2007. It is a business promoting organization helping people get to where they want to be in business and live.

The Bridge held its first lunch meeting at Perkins in Lehigh. Our goal was to get Lehigh and Ft. Myers businesses to connect. Our lunches were a two hour event every other Wednesday.

Cathy and Michele had been networking for two years in both Lehigh and Ft. Myers. We belonged to many groups. We took the best of what we had seen at other meetings and added our own touch to make the Bridge meetings enjoying and beneficial to the business community. We also wanted to use The Bridge to help local charities that are not federally funded.

By December we had out grown Perkins and moved the lunch meetings to Colonial Country Club on Colonial Blvd. Cathy moved back to Ohio, leaving Michele with the sole responsible of The Bridge. In June 2008, The Bridge Networking Group was incorporated.

Since we didn’t have any membership or dues, the meetings grow to over 80 people. Other groups and companies felt The Bridge was a threat and tried to shut it down. This promted Michele, the President, to grow The Bridge Networking Group.

Since the meetings were attracting many businesses, she decided to branch out to N. Ft. Myers. The Bridge took over the Lunch Bunch started by Margaret Wolter and Jane Stevens. Around the same time, The Bridge opened A Night in the Cape that was hosted by Marci Gower. We continued to grow to the Punta Gorda and Lehigh Acres markets. Then a Ft. Myers evening event was created and then Bridge to a Brighter Future was started. The growth increased quickly to the point of having 8 to 10 meetings each month. Soon The Bridge overwhelmed Michele and she took the meetings to 3 a month. It was hard to find time for a vacation with so many meetings going on each month.

During the growth period, The Bridge Networking website was created for the businesses to have more exposure to the public. Currently we have over 90 business listings and list all the events. Recently we started the Local Specials page so businesses can post their current specials.

January 2009 The Bridge Business View on line publication was created. It reaches 4,000 SWFL readers monthly. Businesses are invited to write educational articles for more exposure. We also offer advertising and list special events by other groups.

Today The Bridge Networking Group, Inc. meets in Ft. Myers, Central Ft. Myers and Cape Coral monthly. We have over 150 people attend the events. Sponsorships are available and display tables for businesses to show off their product or promote their services. Each year we hold a Trade Show or Expo and we have a lot of charity auctions through out the year for local charities.

We continue to financially support Destiny Diaper Bank and have began the Gifts for Hope program to give local children Christmas gifts. We team up with Woman’s Life Chapter 701 each year to hold a Christmas and Easter party for local children. The Bridge is proud to be giving back to the community each year. This was one of the reasons Cathy and Michele started three years ago.

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