Hi Kim Marie, could you tell us about you and your journey in Tech?
First, thank you for having me and for the opportunity to share my story with your readers. I am the CEO and owner of LeTip International, Inc., we’re the world’s largest privately-owned professional business networking organization. I came into LeTip as a member for two years with over 30 years of experience in the banking industry and then was asked to work for the company as the Regional Director of Arizona and decided early on that I wanted to excel in every opportunity that would be given to me. Working my way up the ranks happened quickly because I had that strong mindset and was determined to reach every goal I set for myself. In 2003 I was promoted to LeTip National Training Director and in the following year, I was promoted to Executive Vice President. I was hitting milestones so quickly that in 2005 I became the President of LeTip.
The strong relationship that I built with LeTip’s founder, Ken Peterson, as well as my reliable track record of accomplishments within the organization eventually resulted in me purchasing LeTip and becoming the CEO/Owner in 2008. Since taking the helm of LeTip International, Inc., I have led the professional business networking organization and trained over 20,000 members in networking techniques to grow their businesses. Our members operate in over 740 different business categories, across 240+ chapters in 16 states and two countries. As the leader of LeTip International, I have directly and indirectly helped thousands of small businesses achieve success across the country and closed business deals valued at over $1.5 billion.
The pandemic really taught us the benefits of embracing technology and now our proprietary software application LeTip Wired is an integral part of how we stay connected with our members. To offset barriers to connection during the pandemic, I invested in LeTip Wired, a new proprietary software and mobile app that helps members electronically track existing business networks and recruit new members. Introducing LeTip Wired helped my team feel like they belong to a nationwide community and ultimately ensured many small businesses wouldn’t have to close their doors. As a result, LeTip ended 2021 with a 70% increase in membership engagement because of the tool. Even as more chapter go back in-person or continue to embrace hybrid meeting models, LeTip Wired is still a proven way to stay on top of referrals.
How has the Covid-19 pandemic reshaped your view of the business environment that your business operates in?
The threat of the pandemic really forced me to adjust LeTip’s business model and operations structure so that my staff and members would be adequately provided with the resources to succeed. It also reinforced our belief that one-to-one connections and referrals are critical to business success.
I’m proud of all members of LeTip International for supporting each other through the challenges of a global pandemic. We were so resilient in 2020 and 2021, and we will keep that momentum going in 2022 and beyond. These past few years have reminded me that as a leader, one of the best things I can do to positively impact my industry is to create space to listen to others and try to understand the other side’s perspective. In the post covid world we need more leaders who are excellent listeners. Talk to people whom you want to learn more about and ask how their day is going. I believe this will inspire you to help others and create a more kind, tolerant, and understanding world.
What sets LeTip International apart from the competition?
LeTip is the original business leads networking group and we really set the standard by developing a program that always embraced both businesswomen and businessmen. Diversity, integrity and dedication are the driving forces behind everything that we do. The same cannot be said for other networking organizations.
We also only allow one member per industry category in each chapter. For example, no chapter will have more than one residential relator or accountant. This ensures there’s no competition within a chapter.
How do you see the Business Networking sector evolving over the years to come?
More professionals will likely be joining networking organizations like LeTip in order to regain a bit of that connection that has been lost with the isolation of the pandemic. And mirroring the transition to hybrid and fully remote work environments, hybrid networking events will also be widely available to offer a more flexible format for professionals. LeTip International will continue to grow its reach as the leading networking and business referral organization, growing its current chapters’ membership and adding new chapters across the country. I spend hundreds of hours each year personally training members and leaders within LeTip, helping each and every member become the best networker they can be and reach their goals. I’m working on franchising more chapters with LeTip World Franchise, a platform to offer prospective business owners the chance to own their own turnkey professional lead generation business. We’re also continuing to improve our business networking technology within LeTip and bring in more outside business through our mobile app and software, LeTip Wired.
One piece of advice for first-time entrepreneurs looking to leverage business networking.
As business owners and entrepreneurs, we’ve all done some sort of networking to get to where we are today. I wish someone had told me to join groups that could give advice and share ups and downs in a supportive environment. I did that after ten years in business. What a relief. It helps tremendously and I am still a part of a group that cares and shares with each other.
LeTip has hundreds of local chapters with thousands of members nationwide and it provides a structured environment for networking with loyal, hardworking, and like-minded business professionals. Relationship building is something that takes time and only works if you fully embrace it. That’s why every LeTip chapter meets every week, the same time, the day and every meeting follows the same agenda. This repetition and consistency is proven to generate more referrals for your business. You also get the pleasure of knowing you’re helping others and building friendships with your fellow chapter members.
As a Business leader, what is the one piece of advice you would give to those who aspire to the C-suite?
Surround yourself with people who share your beliefs and be selective of who you let into your business. Trust them to make good decisions and praise them when they do. You will have to be firm with them when they don’t, but you do it in a way that strengthens and teaches them. Ask for help when you need it and look in all directions, it doesn’t have to be within your company but a pool of people who love you and know you are doing the right thing. The most important thing is to listen.
Your top pick for a book on Marketing/Sales that everyone should read?
I really enjoy the books “Three Feet from Gold” and “Exit Rich” by Sharon Lechter. She’s a wealth of knowledge for women business owners and gives great advice on mentoring, financial literacy and so much more.
What sales/marketing tools do you use for business?
In the midst of the Pandemic in 2020, I invested in LeTip Wired which is a new proprietary software and mobile app that helps members electronically track existing business networks and recruit new members. Introducing LeTip Wired certainly helped my team feel like they belong to a nationwide community and ultimately ensured many small businesses wouldn’t have to close their doors.
Within the LeTip organization, we regularly employ B.A.N.K® methodology. B.A.N.K. is an important sales tool for entrepreneurs and small business owners that is scientifically validated to accurately predict buying behavior in real-time and increase sales up to 300%. I utilize B.A.N.K to teach members how to identify different personality styles so that they can communicate effectively and successfully bring more referrals to other members.
What metrics do you use to define success?
Our metrics are simply numbers. The more members we have the more success. The more chapters we have the more success. It works to when members leave, we can see the offset and calculate what we may need to be doing differently. Making people happy allows them to stay longer and feel they are cared for. No one in the office says “no” but rather let me find someone who can give you a different answer. Everything can be worked out. A happy member is a member filled with loyalty and is not leaving anytime soon. Making them happy keeps them here!
Thanks, Kim Marie!