Networking group is helping Long Island businesses to stand strong together to help each and every member improve their bottom line while doing good for the communities they serve.

In today’s highly competitive post-COVID economy, business owners need every advantage they can get to not only stay afloat, but to grow their business. One networking group in particular is helping Long Island businesses to stand strong together and flourish due to a communal effort to help each and every member improve their bottom line while doing good for the communities they serve as well.

Randy Goldbaum, Vice President of Long Island Egress Pros, originally joined 1st Resource – a Long Island-based chapter of the international organization Business Network International (BNI) – at the tail end of the COVID-19 pandemic, an event that made the already strenuous business landscape of Long Island even more difficult for many companies and retailers.

Joining his local chapter of BNI was one of the best business decisions he’s ever made, Goldbaum noted.

“When I joined BNI 1st Resource the chapter was 40 some-odd strong coming off of COVID, having in-person meetings at the Majestic Diner in Westbury,” he said. “We have meetings there every Wednesday morning, and all members get an opportunity every meeting to speak about their business in order to build brand awareness & familiarity among all members ; in addition, there is a speaking rotation where members have an opportunity to be a spotlight speaker and do a deep dive into their business and take questions .”

The unique thing about BNI is that it offers only one seat per profession; unlike some other networking organizations that allow an unlimited number of identical businesses, the membership of BNI is far more exclusive and focused. And with that focused membership comes a degree of professional camaraderie where members are constantly on the lookout for work referrals for their fellow members, Goldbaum said.

“What BNI is, is a giver’s gain. That is the underlining tone of what we do,” he said “Each member’s goal is to always be looking for opportunities for the other members, and it does come back to you. For example, as an egress professional, when I’m at someone’s house and they have leaders and gutters that are causing problems, I have a vetted gutter company in my group who I can refer with confidence”. Confidence and relationships with members are built around our one-to-one meetings. We encourage one-to-one meetings, as they are required as part of membership to 1st Resource.  Relationship building amongst members is one of the most important keys within our chapter.”

When a BNI member recommends one of their brethren, the referral is recorded in an app; if the referred member secures the business, the member will enter the information into the app as a “thank you” for the referral. This, in turn, gets put into a pool of revenue so that the group as a whole – as well as their individual members – can measure how successful they are, and to ensure that everyone is pulling their respective weight.

“The last thing we want is for someone to occupy a seat and not be into what we’re doing,” Goldbaum said. “We have removed people from the group that are not performing. You have to be ‘trolling,’ which is the word we use. You’ve got to be looking for opportunities.”

When it comes to BNI’s success, the numbers don’t lie; the 1st Resource chapter alone has done approximately $4.7 million in business as a group over the course of the past 12 months, valuing each member’s seat at just over $55,000; clearly, the value that BNI Fist Resource represents is truly impressive.

Within BMI’s 1st Resource chapter is what are referred to as “power groups” which consist of businesspeople of related professions – for example, housing, finance, food service, and so on – which can essentially cross-pollinate each other’s businesses, generating revenue hand-in-hand.

Of course, there are examples of outside-the-box networking within BNI as well; Goldbaum notes that he’s both given and received business through some very unexpected avenues during his time with the organization.

“Some of my best contacts, some of the business I’ve gotten at BNI have come from people I would never think of,” he said. “For example, we have a hypnotist in our group, and he’s a great member. He’ll go to houses to help people quit smoking and notice that they need egress in their basement and refer me. That’s a great example.”

Since Goldbaum initially joined BNI, he’s seen its 40 members swell to very impressive levels, and the group’s evolution is slated to continue, rendering it a major powerhouse in the Long Island business community.

“We’ve been working hard on growth, and we are now one of the largest BNI chapters on Long Island. We just signed our 86th member, and we have applications pending,” he said. “Our goal is to be at 100 by Thanksgiving. But we’re not just accepting anybody, and we’re being very diligent with the existing members. We have to be, because we want a group that’s going to be a boon for each member.”

BNI membership extends beyond simply serving as a referral service; it is also personally beneficial to their members as well.

“It’s amazing what comes out of this, beyond business. When you’re a member of BNI, you have what I call a ‘Swiss Army knife’ of partners that are available to work with you, whether it’s a personal situation or a business opportunity,” Goldbaum said. “I have attorneys in my group, for example, and I had a situation where I had to call one of the lawyers at 10 at night, and he was happy to help me at that time. That doesn’t happen in everyday life, but that happens with BNI 1st Resource because we’re brothers & sisters.”

In keeping with that theme of brotherhood, more seasoned members will mentor newcomers, giving them business tips and access to their vast knowledge in order to help them grow their own enterprises. One-to-one meetings are regularly set up amongst the membership as well in order to help them get to know each other better.

The members of BNI are held to extraordinarily high standards, Goldbaum noted, and if there are too many instances of an individual not pulling their weight they could be subjected to disciplinary action, up to and including expulsion from the group.

“A major, major no-no in BNI is if someone sends you a referral and you don’t bother to follow up on it. Leadership will warn you, and if you do that twice, you’re out,” he said. “That is a direct violation of everything. You refer someone from the group to your client and then they don’t bother calling them? You look foolish. There’s mutual respect in this organization.”

But ultimately, Goldbaum said that BNI 1st Resource is causing a business resurgence on Long Island, with its membership having each other’s backs through thick and thin and helping each other however they can on the pathway to success.

“Networking is alive on Long Island. It’s so important. We’re a local group, and most of us service all the way from Manhattan to Montauk. We live on Long Island and the revenue that we generate is staying on Long Island,” he said. “And we’re doing great things as an organization, whether it’s donating to charities – for example, we do back-to-school backpack drives and Toys for Tots – so we give and we take, and  I think that every member of our group is a better businessperson because of it.”

To find out more about BNI first resource website:


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