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Bridge Networking Group meets monthly in North Fort Myers

By Staff | Jul 20, 2009

It started out simply as a group of friends meeting for breakfast at a Perkins Restaurant. Now, two years later, The Bridge Networking Group Inc. has grown to holding monthly events in four locations, including North Fort Myers.
“It was something Kathy Daniels and Michele Andre started in 2007 and
it was just more about friends getting together and networking,” said Margaret Wolter of Graphic Signs Solutions. She is known as the “host” for The local group meets at Bianca’s Ristorante Italiano & Pizzeria monthly, with the next event set for Thursday, July 30, at 11:15 a.m.
“The group is the umbrella and we have meetings in North Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Lehigh Acres and Fort Myers,” she said.
Wolter spearheaded the North Fort Myers area group with Jane Stevens.
“Each group differs,” she said. “We get anywhere from 30 to 50 attendees each month. We have open networking for about one-half an hour and then we will sit down and have one or two speakers depending on the venue. It’s people like me, you, all people from the area.”
She feels her experience with networking through the group has been successful.
“And we’re trying to teach people you don’t have to pay a lot of money to network and get business in the area,” she said.
There are no membership dues, and all types of professionals are welcome.
“You’re just paying for your lunch,” Wolter said.
“We are a for-profit, but The Bridge runs at break-even,” co-founder Andre said. “We are not competition with any chambers. They do projects. We’re just simply networking, but we do support local charities.”
She said they started in Lehigh Acres at a Perkins Restaurant for businesses in Lehigh and Fort Myers to meet, but outgrew that restaurant because of attendance.
“In January of 2008, as far as a base, we moved it to Colonial Country Club,” Andre said. “We had such success from that, pulling people from all three counties, Lee, Collier and Charlotte, that some meetings exceeded 80 people.”
That’s when the satellite groups developed.
A charity event for the group is coming up in August.
“At our regular meeting in North Fort Myers on Aug. 27, at 11:00 a.m., Woman’s Life Southwest Florida Chapter 701 will be holding a chinese auction to benefit Destiny Diaper Bank and they will match the funds we raise up to $500,” she said.
Besides Destiny Diaper Bank, the group has also supported Tender Loving Care Homes for Children, Lee County Animal Services and Lehigh Hope Hospice.
Lucille DeVita is the owner of the new business Divop Services, and will be the guest speaker at the July 27 meeting. She is marketing her husband’s talents as a photographer and musician to business owners.
She learned about The Bridge by going on the Internet.
“I went on a whole bunch of networking sites and The Bridge always shows up,” she said.
She’s been going to all of the North Fort Myers meetings ever since she found about about it.
“They are a great group of people.”
If you’d like to go to the July 30 luncheon, RSVP by the July 26 to margaret@thebridgenetworking.com. The Bianca’s Ristorante Italiano & Pizzeria location is 16251 N. Cleveland Ave.
For information on the overall group, go to: thebridgenetworking.com or call 225-5019.