They look like a bunch of cheery morning people. They were professionally dressed, laughing and casually chatting over a cup of coffee by 7:30 a.m. The Top Notch Team, TNT, networking group has been meeting every Thursday at 7:15 a.m. at the Imperial Diner on Merrick Road in Freeport since 2016. The unique aspect of TNT is the group is made up of 23 industries of which only one member represents. As new members join the group, a new industry is added, but if a realtor wants to join, and the group already has a realtor, the new realtor is not able to join the group.
The reason for exclusivity, according to founders of TNT, Baldwin couple, Jeffery and Regina Finkelstein, is to avoid unnecessary competition with members. Another different aspect of TNT, are the dues. Joining a networking group could cost from $750 to $1200 a year and does not include meals or additional events, according to the Finklestiens. TNT was started to provide business owner and professionals with an opportunity to meet other colleagues without breaking the bank. TNT membership fees are discussed at the time of the membership application, but Regina said they’re quite affordable.
Some of the members drive from as far as Brooklyn or even Bayshore and Farmingdale to participate in the networking.
“I like the energy of this group,” Vincent Giacalone, owner and founder of The Organized Guy said. “It’s not solely for the referrals to give business get business, but it’s also the people. It’s an easygoing group. We have fun.”
The breakfast meetings, according to Regina, allow the early risers to get ahead of the day. Through the networking group, Regina said, allows the attendees to either hear the first pitch of the day or simply get in front of potential employers or clients before they’re inundated with the daily demands of their work.
During Thursday’s meeting Dunbar Consultants Inc. owner, Kirk Dunbar held a 10-minute presentation of his work in permit services and violations removal in the housing, construction and plumbing industry. Following the discussion, members of the group shared referrals, offered words of encouragement to each other and planned one-on-one meetings.
The one-on-one meetings amongst members allow them to connect and learn about each other’s industries. Through the one-on-one meetings, Farmingdale business owner Kim Poulos-Liberz was able to connect with a colleague Nancy Barnanbll of Next Level Real Estate in Lynbrook, who helped her find a new location to expand her second business, Barnyard Lane Sign Company. Other one-on-one meetings have led to referrals and collaborations amongst the members beyond the weekly breakfasts.