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Networking group marks anniversary
Network WEB 1
Ted Spaulding, left, and Melba Stieglitz chats during a recent More Leads Cumming meeting. The networking group, led by Stieglitz, meets every other Thursday morning at The Columns at Pilgrim Mill apartment complex office off Freedom Parkway. - photo by Autumn Vetter

Jerry Morris had the chance to network in a unique way last week.

During a meeting of More Leads Cumming, Morris presented a skit that highlighted the questions potential couples may have when choosing a wedding photographer.

While that may seem a different approach to some, More Leads Cumming is all about giving business owners a chance to network in unique ways.

The networking group, which meets every other Thursday morning at The Columns at Pilgrim Mill apartment complex office, is marking its fifth year. Melba Stieglitz founded it during the height of the economic downturn.

“I started it as an alternative,” she said during a recent meeting.

The group has since grown from five members to about 50 who attend regularly, and Stieglitz said there often are new faces.  

“We have a lot of people that come every [meeting],” she said. “There’s a lot of business generated out of here.”

Maggie Spaulding, an attorney with Boling Rice LLC, said she’s been coming to the More Leads Cumming meetings for about six months.

“I met Melba when I was doing a closing for a client who used Melba as their mortgage broker and she invited and I came,” Spaulding said. “I did one [meeting] and then I told my husband, ‘You need to come and do one.’”

She and husband Ted, also an attorney at Boiling Rice, have been “coming ever since.”

Maggie Spaulding said she attends for a number of reasons.

“One, the personalities of the people are all great, and two, it really is a great referral source,” she said. “I personally have used a lot of people in this group, their businesses, gone to them.”

For example, she said after a recent insurance rate increase, she contacted several group members who work in that field.

“I immediately got quotes,” she said, noting that the help has been mutual.

“I’ve gotten a lot of referrals from these people, so it’s all about getting your business to grow.”

Steve Connors, a chiropractor with Alliance Health and Rehab, attended his first More Leads Cumming meeting last week. From what he saw, he’s hopeful the group will benefit his business.

“It was a very well-structured group today,” he said. “I think it’s going to create a lot of future business for a lot of people and create even more ties.”

Stieglitz said the group, which is always open to any new business, is not just about networking. A big part of it is helping business owners learn and better themselves.

For example, the group has offered a number of training sessions for members on topics such as public speaking and financial planning.

There are also opportunities for members to speak on topics in which they’re experts. Each attendee is given one minute to introduce themselves at every meeting, and one member is given a chance to give about a 15-minute presentation on his or her business.

“That gives everybody a chance to go into more detail,” Stieglitz said. “We try to be finished in one hour, start to finish, and it’s hard to get everybody to cover everything in one minute, so we do feature one business each time.”

The group sometimes also invites representatives of nonprofits in to speak.

“We bring in [nonprofit] groups to tell us what they’re all about … we want to get the word out about their services as well, so it’s not just about ‘send me a lead,’ it’s about learning and about giving back to the community from which we take,” Stieglitz said.