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CCPG gets down to business

CCPG gets down to business

Columbia Connections Professional Group is the self-proclaimed “one-stop referral for a wide gamut of products and services.” Unlike many other networking groups, CCPG is more intimate—with only 13 members—and is self-governing.

“It all started when one of the members approached me and said they had tried other groups that had extensive fees and no membership screening process,” said Gil Heckel, CCPG president. “We wanted to form a group in which we had a say in who was in it so that we could feel comfortable referring these people to our clients.”

Currently the members represent fields such as computer consulting; auto, home, life, health and business insurance; real estate; financial planning; mortgage services; payroll, medical and worker’s compensation business services; and home inspection and appraisal services.

“We recently decided to call ourselves a professional referral group instead of a leads or networking group,” said Heckel. “We approach the networking idea from a different perspective, so instead of going into it thinking ‘What can I get out of this?’ we focus on ‘What can I give?’”

The members’ goals are to seek new business relationships, to improve current relationships by offering solutions to existing clients, and to help other members of CCPG build their respective businesses by forwarding leads or referrals.

“We seek out helpful people that we know, trust and think are fair, and I don’t want to recommend somebody to my client who doesn’t have those qualities,” said CCPG secretary and treasurer Tara Martin.

Membership into the group involves an extensive screening process. Current members nominate new members, who come to a meeting and make a pitch for membership. The group then talks about the nominee and his or her level of professionalism and compatibility with other members before deciding whether to bring that person into the group.

The group started up in March and meets every other Thursday at Columbia Country Club. The members’ monthly dues are invested in marketing the group.

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