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Group marks first year
Celebration set for April 6
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Jeff Dean demonstrates a trade show banner Wednesday that his company, Vital Signs & Graphics, offers. Dean credits the uptick in his Cumming firm’s business to Business 400 Inc., a networking group that will celebrate its first anniversary next month. - photo by Jim Dean
At a glance

Business 400 Inc.’s one-year anniversary event is set for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. April 6 at the Metropolitan Club off Windward Pkwy. in Alpharetta. Tickets are $10 for members and $15 for guests. Food will be served by multiple restaurant members, and cash prizes and a flat-screen TV will be given away. For more information, go online at
While some businesses have been struggling, Jeff Dean said he saw sales increase 35 percent in 2009.

He credits most of that surge to contacts he has made during the monthly Business 400 Inc. meetings.

“It all goes back to the networking I’ve been doing,” said Dean, owner of Vital Signs & Graphics in Cumming.

“I’ve generated a lot of business from it and I’ve made lots of good contacts that I could even send business to. So I know it’s not only been good for me, but it’s been good for a lot of people that I’ve met.”

On average, about 300 people attend the monthly meetings.

Founder and President Ron Dinsmore said about 40 percent of those are new participants.

That interest from newcomers is why he expects as many as 500 people to attend the Forsyth County-based organization’s one-year anniversary celebration April 6.

“More and more people are starting to understand the value of networking,” Dinsmore said. “I’ve been relying on it for 38 years ... now it’s really catching on in big groups.”

Dinsmore and his wife, Marie, are real estate agents in the area.

He said the couple founded the networking group as a way to “provide really the only true large networking opportunity on the Ga. 400 corridor.”

The organization, geared toward businesses along the Ga. 400 corridor from Buckhead to Dahlonega, has about 280 members who pay annual dues and can set up booths at meetings for a fee.

Non-members pay a small door charge and go from booth to booth visiting other businesses and getting a feel for the networking process, Dinsmore said.

Every meeting has been held at the Metropolitan Club in Alpharetta.

“People are building relationships,” he said. “They share back and forth and they either do business together, or they know someone in their sphere of influence that may want to do business.

“We were geared more toward the mid- to smaller-size business, but a lot of big corporations are coming to us now.”

Dean serves on the advisory board of the organization. He has been a table vendor for at least six of the past 12 months and continues to work with the other businesses he’s met.

He’s tried other networking groups, but “the most success I’ve had has been with Business 400.”

“It changed the way I did business,” he said. “It was good for me, so I just kept going back.”