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Networking Group Helps Entrepreneurs Connect

Group will host first business expo at Stegton Regency Friday.

Doreen Phillips, 49, of Maryland Heights, is an entrepreneur whose business centers around helping entrepreneurs.

"Networking is how you build your business," she said.

Phillips has a background in accounting and human resources. She sold her staffing business that focused on accounting professionals in March 2010. 

A year later, Phillips launched Networking Plus, a networking organization.

"I had a vision," she said. "I was ready to do something where I could help people. I wanted it to be a non-restrictive environment, a no-pressure atmosphere."

Networking Plus members pay a yearly fee of $350 and can attend as many of the meeting as they want in a week. The six Networking Plus meetings are held in Creve Couer, Clayton, O'Fallon, St. Peters, Fenton and Maryland Heights each week. In six months, membership has grown to 150 people.

Phillips said small, medium and even large corporate businesses can benefit from joining Networking Plus because it allows people to make connections.

"If someone says, do you have a really good heating and cooling person, you are going to refer to the person who comes to your head first," Phillips said. "They most likely will call that person and most likely the business will close."

Phillips offers members "plus moments" or other opportunities to promote their business throughout the year. The first will be from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday at the in St. Charles.

Phillips said she expects to have more than 100 vendors at the event.

At a recent meeting in Maryland Heights, members nibbled pretzels and sipped wine while listening to one another offer a 60-second "infomercial" on their businesses.

Of the 22 people in attendance, there were two hypnotherapists, a grant writer, a graphic designer, a fitness consultant, a Mary Kay saleswoman as well as at least one person looking for a job.

Chuck Lee, 59, of Manchester, started his grant, technical and business plan writing company a year and a half ago after he was laid off as a marketing manager.

"I said this is a skill I have and I think I have a niche," he said. In the beginning, Lee spent 50 to 75 percent of his time networking and trying to connect with clients. These days he tries to attend two Networking Plus events a week and two other networking events.

Compared to the other groups, "this has many more networking opportunities and is much less structured," he said.

Brian Goldman, who works for a corporate travel and meeting planning group, said Networking Plus is comparable to various chambers of commerce except that Network Plus meets more frequently.

Goldman is on the board of directors for both Maryland Heights and Northwest Chambers of Commerce. Networking Plus has helped him connect with people in other areas.

“It’s different people outside of my sphere of influence," he said. "It’s not my chamber people, it’s people from all over St. Louis.”

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