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Yohann Chaigneau

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Small Firms Defy Downturn

Source: Kent Messenger by business editor Trevor Sturgess
Date: 01.17.13

Building projects have proved the most lucrative sector for smaller businesses that have defied recession by networking.
Despite an 11% fall in overall construction work across the south east, members of the Business Network International (BNI) group in Kent and Medway have bucked the trend.
A survey of the county's 27 BNI chapters - most with up to 50 members who meet weekly for an early breakfast and business referrals - found house building projects gave them the biggest opportunity.
Nearly £15.5 million worth of business was recorded between BNI members - including plumbers, small builders and electricians - in Kent over the past 12 months, much of it from building work.
Referrals between members, who require services ranging from architectural design, decorating, building, surveying, renovation to maintenance and property lettings and sales, created the most valuable new business deals.
BNI, the UK's largest networking organisation, has more than 500 members across the county and 13,000 nationally.
Tim Kidd, BNI regional organiser based in Canterbury, said: "After the big crash a few years ago, people have looked to local, smaller independent companies rather than the large nationals.
"They are looking for the builder or tradesperson down the road who does a good job and is referred by word-of-mouth marketing."
He said BNI's slogan was "we refuse to take part in the recession" and this had prompted positive thinking.
"A lot of our members have been very successful during the recession and it hasn't really impacted their business at all," he said. "We run a very positive organisation."
He singled out the Canterbury chapter for special praise. With more than 50 members, it is the largest in Kent and one of the largest in the world. "There is certainly some very good business going on and the Canterbury chapter is particularly good."
Meanwhile, BNI in Kent is expected to set up three more chapters this year - in
Dartford, Romney Marsh and Lympne/Lydd - boosting the countywide total to 30. Area organiser Tim Kidd said there could even be more.

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