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Connext Nation


By Debby Peters,

Mini’s Begin for the Winter Sessions

Our next 2 hour Mini classes will be on: 

January 13, from 11am-1pm, ONLY FOR BNI MEMBERS for the Toledo area with registration for just this session at  Because of the BNI sponsorship, it is only $5 and includes lunch from Pam’s Corner. Owner Pam Weirauch, CN grad, is sponsoring this lunch.
January 16, from 11am-1pm for the Rocky River/Cleveland area.  If you know of someone who would like to register for the Cleveland session, please send them to

New Member Breakfast
A new offering in 2016, is that we will have our first new member breakfast for the CN grads from the 2015 classes.  This is our way of thanking them for taking the CN plunge. It’s also a means for them to get to know the BOA members and to learn some of the ways that they can become an involved member of the community.  The new event is being held on January 11, 2016, at 9-10 a.m. at the Charlie’s Restaurant just off Dussel in Maumee

Toledo January Lunch
Our next regular Toledo lunch is scheduled for January 18, 2016, which is also Martin Luther King Day. We know that some of you will have a challenge with childcare because of the holiday and also some of you won’t be working that day.  But hopefully, you will all want to greet each other in the new year and just have the fun that our lunches offer.  We will again be at Smokey Bones on Dussel in Maumee.  Our goal is to have 30 people in attendance.

February Toledo Walleye
Jason Madasz, BNI and CN trainer, is coordinating the Walleye’s event on Sunday, February 21.  The cost to attend is only $14 and the best part is that you can purchase whatever you’d like to eat during your time there.  Jason says that our seats are very near the largest concession area at the Huntington Center.  The doors open at 4:15pm and the game begins at 5:15.  This will be a two-organization event with members from CN and BNI inviting members and guests. The goal is to have 100 people come to this game. Please take a moment to register at

February 1-5, International Networking Week
CN, BNI, WEN and So Now are banding together to celebrate International Networking Week during the first five days of February. Read the article below to find out more!

Next Toledo Breakfast
If you are one that likes to get events on your calendar, the next Toledo Breakfast networking event is March 8, at 7:30 am at Pam’s Corner Restaurant. More details to come later.

April Toledo Fantastic Four Lunch
At this lunch, we try the best that we can to sit you with three other people who have the same or similar target market. The conversations are facilitated by BOA members so that no one person dominates and everyone gets to engage. This event is planned for April 18, with the earlier start time of 11 am.

Cleveland Socializing
Tonya Anderson, ACN, from our Northeast region is thinking about planning an event to provide a time for the all Cleveland grads to get together. Stay tuned for further details.

Social Media
Don’t forget to answer the question of the week on our Facebook page.  It gives other readers an insight into your personality and adds a bit of fun to the community at Wilson keeps the page updated and you’ll be able to keep abreast of all that’s happening in your community. Plus you might see your face there if you attend one of our events.

Member Spotlight:

Kerri Brimmer, Brimming Design,
by Chris Kapelski, Interactive Design Solutions


I recently had the pleasure of getting to know Kerri Brimmer a little better, and what I learned was amazing. Growing up, Kerri knew that she wanted to be an artist. Her grandfather was an illustrator for the Toledo Blade and she absolutely loved being in his studio and art class. While attending Bowling Green State University, Kerri decided that she wanted to get her degree in Graphic Design because it was a nice blend of communication, organization, and of course, art. Now she loves utilizing her degree in everything that she does and to this day completely loses track of time when working.

Kerri, her two sisters, and two brothers grew up in the Toledo Area but are now spread from Chicago to New York. As a child, Kerri can remember many happy memories such as going to the Toledo Art Museum on Saturday mornings for class, visiting the Children's Wonderland at the Maumee Recreational Center, and countless picnics at the wonderful area parks. 

Today the most important thing in Kerri's life is her family. She has three young adult children, daughters ages 22 and 18, and a son who is 15. Raising her children with her husband has been the greatest joy in her life, with all my nieces and nephews being the icing on top. If there happens to be a cat or even two to decorate the house, that makes her happy as well. The most memorable moment in her life is becoming a mother for the first time, realizing this was her biggest responsibility ever, and that there was absolutely no manual. She loved it!

Fun Fact: Kerri would take in stray cats and people, but her husband thinks that their house is crazy enough (and according to her...he might be right).

Making memories is really important to Kerri and something she has always wanted to do is throw a pot (On a potter's wheel, not across the room). Somehow in all of her schooling, she missed out on that one. Another memory Kerri would love to make is to take part in a resident summer art program with her mother. 

Kerri's professional life is very busy but when an occasional chunk of free time materializes, Kerri loves to hang out with her family and watch movies, Dancing with the Stars, or sit in her hot tub. When she gets a free day to herself, Kerri loves to read, draw, and make things at home. Vacations to national parks are her tradition, though this coming year she is heading to Europe. 

Her business, Brimming Design, was created during the CN class this year and is a wonderful extension of the work that she has been doing for many years. This extension has given her the opportunity to work with exciting new clients, markets, and industries. Previously, Kerri worked at an ad agency, led a corporation's graphic design department, and partnered in a 20 year custom card business that is currently winding down. 

Like many networkers, Kerri belongs to many networking organizations such as So Now, BNI, CN, but Kerri shines in her willingness to step up and help out. She not only volunteers her time to assist with the CN Board but she also volunteers with the Boys and Girls Club. 

Fun Fact: Kerri is also involved with the Bowling Green Skating Club.


CN Horn Tooting


Andrew Kistner, Container Graphics Corporation, and his wife Emily, are excited to announce the birth of their first child, a daughter, Grace Olivia Kistner after nearly seven years of infertility. She was born at 37 weeks, and is 5lbs and 1oz, 19" long. We are so happy for this lucky couple.

Barb Wilson, SM3, has been asked to be a presenter at the Toledo Dental Society Spring Clinic in April. It will be a full day of learning how to select, set-up, and successfully manage social media for a dental practice. Students will also earn CEU credits for the six hour day. 

Crystal Jordan, First Federal Bank, is very proud to announce that they have just opened a First Federal Bank of the Midwest bank branch.  They are located at 2920 W. Central Avenue in Toledo.  They are east of Costco, across the street from The Beauty Bar, the fire station and Optical Arts. Additionally Crystal has been promoted to Vice President, Business Development Officer.

Cheryl Nickolaidis is excited to share that she has been named Director of Business Development for W by Worth. It's a huge opportunity for her which she begins on January 1.

David Bodner, Mass Mutual Financial Group, is serving on the Amazing Race Committee for Read For Literacy. This is the organization's main fundraiser and is loads of fun as teams race around town on a crazy scavenger hunt and silly photo ops. The date for the Race is April 9, 2016.  David is a volunteer reader for Read For Literacy.

Greg Kissner, Duke Architecture & Design, LLC, would like to say thanks for the opportunity to be invited for the 60 second showdown at the NW Ohio BNI banquet. His specific request to be a guest at the WCEDC meeting resulted in contact with numerous networking possibilities and even a potential for future architectural services and the invitation came from his CN classmate.

Debby Peters, Connext Nation, was so surprised when she received a call from Liz Manning, Executive Director of the Rocky River Chamber of Commerce, to let Debby know that she is going to be recognized at the annual awards lunch for being the most active member of the chamber (except for Board members who are required to attend events.). With a 400 member active chamber, Debby was shocked!

Tongue in cheek, Jennifer Bazeley, Arbonne, asked if taking a first salsa dancing lesson and not tripping over her feet, or her dancing partner's feet counted as horntooting.  We absolutely think so!

For the second year in a row, Jenn Wenzke, So Now Coaching, is a "National Novel in a Month" Achiever. In 2014 there were 325,142 participants. Jenn was inspired by her sister, Diana Martin, to give it a try.

Kerri Brimmer, Brimming Design, is developing personalized marketing packages for local veterinarians to help them stay connected with their clients and build relationships with new ones. She would love other connections with a local veterinarian to help them too!

Kevin Webb, David R. Webb Builder, Inc., received word from Angie's List that they are the recipient of the Super Service Award which is awarded to the top 5% of contractors.  The award is based on performance reviews and scores.  Webb Builders was incorporated in 1975 and since then has built new homes, performed remodeling, constructed additions, and made insurance repairs.

Tonya Anderson, ACN and new Cleveland CN grad, has gotten more customers than she has in a calendar month in a long time.  Her approach to building her organization has improved because she is keenly aware of the power of target marketing.

Mary Ann Mills, Re/Max Masters, will be installed January 17, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio as 2016 Ohio State Women's Council of REALTORS and on January 18, 2016 as a new Ohio Association of REALTORS Director.

Michael Temple, Temple Development Corporation, was just awarded the contract to develop web site for The Countertop Shop. In addition, he was also awarded to the contract to develop the web site for the National Association of Countertop dealers. Both web sites will be completed early in the first quarter of 2016.

Pam Weirauch, Pam’s Corner Restaurant, reports that she just completed an incredible gig. It was dinner for 24 people, three nights a week for eight weeks. In the BNI language it was a tier three referral. Oh the incredible power of networking!!!!

Michelle Quilter, GenoaBank, reports that she will be a first time grandmother to a baby boy. He's measuring for an on time delivery between Christmas and New Year's and he already has a name, Joshua James Sanchez Jr.

New Board Members

Our Board of Action is growing by leaps and bounds!  New grad, Kyle Mossbarger, Mossbarger Design, indicated interest in being an active member of this group.  He visited his first meeting in December and was not scared away!

Laura Osborne, Laura’s Framing, mentioned to Debby in a one-2-one, that she would like to gain board experience.  Before she could backpedal, she was invited to the December meeting.  She also doesn’t scare easily and will join this group that makes our community alive.

Sandy Pirwitz, CN Trainer, has also decided that she can come back to the board.  She was a member previously, but had to step away because she was managing quite a few BNI chapters which took considerable time.  Now retired, her time is ours again!

Personal Invitations Work
by Debby Peters,

At a recent CN Board of Action meeting there was discussion of how to increase the numbers of people who attend events. We were specifically targeting the next breakfast in March. Mary Bryant, Mellaluca, the chair of the event, would like to see 30 people enjoy the early morning hour.  There were plenty of ideas of how to make that happen:  announcements at various BNI chapters, social media postings, articles in the newsletter, etc.  Those are all great ways to let people know about events, but not necessarily a way to get them to attend.  I suggested that if each of us would personally invite one or two other people that I ventured a guess that we would be more than successful in achieving Mary’s goal

As our meeting ended that day, Jenn Wenzke asked me if I was planning to go to the WEN (Women’s Entrepreneurial Network) lunch at Loma Linda’s restaurant. It wasn’t on my calendar, so I had not planned on it.  And I had plenty to do!  But since Jenn is my good friend and she wanted me to go, I told her, “Yes, I will go.”

On my drive to the meeting, I realized that I had just demonstrated to myself the power of a personal invitation.  Even though WEN is great about sending out weekly reminders of all their events, I give it a quick look and move on.  So WEN is doing their announcement job well, but like many, I was ignoring it.  Jenn’s invitation brought it to my attention and I decided to go because I didn’t want to let her down.

This was proved again several days later. Jenn Wenzke is the founder of the women’s networking group called So Now.  At their December lunch meeting, registration was very light with only 11.  Jenn decided to test the personal invitation theory.  She texted several friends about the lunch.  Each text was a separate communication, not sent as a group.  She also asked a few other friends to do the same.  This was just two days before the meeting.  Guess what? The personal invitations worked. There were 29 registrations, with 28 attending.

The big question is how might you use this concept?  Certainly if you would like to bring someone to a CN event, calling or texting that person might help.  But in your own business, how would this work for you?

Graduation update!

November was the month that we honored our newest grads, both in Cleveland and Toledo.  With the traditional evening networking event, about 40-50 people celebrated with the Toledo gang!  The Maumee Indoor Theater is such a great location because of the giant screen that we can use for a slidehow of the grads with the display of the answer to the question of, “What’s something no one knows about you?”  

The MVP chosen from the Friday morning class by Graduate Assistant, Sarah Krafty, Krafty Travel, was Julie Spann Johnson, owner of a Julie Spann Johnson State Farm Agency in Perrysburg.  She named the Alzheimer’s Association as her favorite charity.  Her grandfather, who was very dear to her, suffered from Alzheimer’s, hence the connection with this group.

Monday evening’s class led by Sandy Pirwtiz, had super Graduate Assistant, Krisi Vadnais.  Not only did Krisi volunteer her time, but she also advocated for the class, putting three of her downline into the course.   She chose Starr Wlodarski, Cruise Planners, as the MVP representative of that class.  Starr’s favorite charity is the Way Public Library in Perrysburg.  She said that she spent a lot of time there when she was a teenager.

About 25 people attended the graduation lunch for the Cleveland CN grads of which there were four grads.  It may have been a smaller class, but all four students were mighty, amassing more homework points than any other Cleveland class and generally just using and adapting the CN material immediately.  Jason Orsky, Jason Orsky Wealth Management, provided the back of the room support as the GA and chose Simon Ellett, Jager Consulting as the class MVP.  Simon’s charity of choice is 30Hearts, a grass roots organization that is providing adoptive mothers and homes for orphans in Bako, Ethiopia, where hundreds of children are left without family each week in this crossroads city.  If you’d like to read more about the small charity that is making a big difference, go to this link,

International Networking Week (INW)
What is International Networking Week?  Started by Ivan Misner, the founder of BNI, INW is a way to bring together representatives of government, businesses and the community to network with each other, to understand the concept of good networking and to listen to talks by key networking specialists from across the world. These speakers will offer advice and information on how businesses can grow and succeed through good networking practices.
When is INW?  This year it is Feb 1-5. 
How is it celebrated?  There are all kinds of ways to celebrate.  Some areas will have a big event and others will do nothing special. We are somewhere in-between those two!  During the five day span, our goal is to reach out beyond our normal networks.
What are we going to do?
We have ordered ribbons that can be attached to a name tag that say, “Want to have a 1-2-1?”  The second line is #INW, the hashtag that we will use when chatting about our efforts on Facebook.  These ribbons will stand out as they are a teal blue color.
Then what?
Here are the steps we would like to have everyone take.  First wear the ribbon.  Second reach out to someone you don’t know outside your regular network and explain the concept of International Networking Week.  For example:  you might want to meet with the mayor of your city, or a principal of a school or the executive director of a non-profit group or a “famous” person that lives in your city,  Third, meet with that person and find out what makes him or her tick.  Fourth, ask that person if he or she would also like to reach out to someone and if so, give him or her a ribbon to start the process.  Fifth, register the 1-2-1 on the CN website.  Sixth, using the hashtag of #INW, talk about your experience on CN’s Facebook page. 
Again, CN is joining forces with BNI, WEN and So Now.  We have ordered 1000 ribbons and would like to have at least half of them used as an entrée to widening the scope of networking.  And it doesn’t have to be someone in your city as you could reach out via the phone around our world.
It should be a fun experiment to see how far and how wide we can reach.  We hope that everyone will climb on board.  To get ribbons, call Debby at 419-304-1171 or email at
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