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Connext Nation


By Debby Peters,

Wrap and Rap!
What in the world?  For a little twist on our traditional business after hours, we are having a wrapping party that will include the opportunity to rap some Christmas carols.  Linda Everhardt Kardux is providing names of those living at the Bethany house that we can buy for. These are families that leave their homes usually with nothing but the clothes on their backs to run to safety.  The BOA and any members that want to participate will be given a specific item to purchase.  We will all bring our gifts to Laura’s Framing on Tuesday, December 6, at 5-7PM.    There will be munchies and a few drinks to help with the caroling!  Jason Madasz, a DJ in a former life, has assigned Brittany Stapleton to provide the song duties that evening and we are assured that she will help to keep the party moving.  There should be some Facebook moments from the evening!  Even if you don’t have a gift to wrap, come and rap!  And of course, guests are welcome!

Next Year!
For those who would like to get dates on the schedule in advance, our next lunch will be January 16 at Smokey Bones on Dussel in Maumee.  It starts at 11:30 AM and ends at 1 PM.  Guests are welcome so bring those who want to rub elbows with the best networkers in NW Ohio!

There will be a breakfast in February, but no date has been set yet.

In March, reserve the 20th for an afterhours probably 5-7 PM.  It will be Hoops, Hopps & Hooch at Charlies Taverna on Tollgate in Maumee.  You can cheer the team you are rooting for in the March Madness time!  Again we love our guests.

Social Media

Stay in the Know!!
Never miss out on a networking event again!  As CN confirms an event, it is set up under the Events tab on our Facebook page with all of the info and links to register if applicable. Did you know you have the option to subscribe so that you receive a notification on Facebook to those events so you don't miss out? While on our Facebook page, simply click on the Events tab and you will see the Subscribe button on the right just above the list of events. Click on it and you are set to go! You can also invite people to the events and share them to your Facebook page as well! Visit our page at today! 

Member Spotlight:

Steve Cotner
by Debby Peters

Most people have a quick vision when they hear the words private investigator; that of someone following people who has been cheating on their spouses.  This version couldn’t be farther from the truth when you begin talking with Steve Cotner, president of Corporate Intelligence Consultants.  This 39 ½ year old business (Cotner shares that they will turn 40 in June next year) co-founded by Steve and his father, Richard Cotner, has been serving corporate clients during these many decades.  He says that his favorite part of the business is being presented with a client’s problem and then developing and executing an investigative plan designed to solve the problem… the lowest cost possible.

Steve began this career after he received his Associates degree from Owens Community College in law enforcement.  Having grown up in a law enforcement household where federal agents were always in and out, he saw what great people they were while also being serious about their jobs of catching bad guys.  After a quick pause, Steve says, “I like catching bad guys, too.”

As an undercover agent for 2 years in the Cleveland and Allen/Auglaize areas, he decided that the job was too dangerous to continue.  He related, “One time I had testified to the grand jury about a “bad guy” who had sold a lot of heroin to me.  He was days away from being arrested.  I was working, just leaving a bar, when he and his three friends showed up.  The guy accused me of being a cop and let’s just say I managed to talk my way out of it.  Of course, my motorcycle wouldn’t start right away, so there I was stomping down on it while they are advancing on me.  It finally started and I got out of there.  The next day the bad guy was arrested and served many years in prison.  But I decided that I didn’t want to work alone and have to carry a gun for $9.50 per hour.  The job was too dangerous.  That sent me back to get my Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Bowling Green State University.”

When not keeping the world safe, Steve likes to fish, travel and sample food of different cultures.  Of course fishermen always have “fish” stories and Cotner’s story is quite unique.  He was at Rockwell Springs Trout Club with three clients and they had a big wager going.  It was $1 for the first fish, $1 for the most fish and $1 for the biggest fish.  Steve shares, “I got my fly in the water quickly and got a fish on.  But then all of a sudden my feet slid down the slippery bank toward the water’s edge where my feet stopped but my body didn’t.  I was launched into the water and ended up doing a handstand on the bottom of the stream.  But, I caught that fish even though my waders were filled with water.”

He loves visiting Costa Rica where he can scuba dive and fish some days and then relax on San Josecito Beach another day.  Here his fishing exploits continue with him catching a 240 pound Sailfish and a 220 pound Tarpon.  A diver for 50 years, he has been down to 115 feet beneath the surface.

His eyes light up when he talks about his pet Yellow Lab, Gable.  This 3 ½ year old goes to work every day with Steve providing stress relief for everyone in the office.

One accomplishment that he is very proud of is having created a great home and property from a barren wheat field starting 24 years ago.  He lives there with his wife, Debby Peters.  He also served 8 years as a commissioner on the Department of Public Safety, Private Investigation Security Service Commission.  He adds that he is a pretty good “shot” and also is a good black jack player.

Cotner belongs to the Employer’s Association, the National Association of Professional Background Screeners, American Society of Industrial Security and the Perrysburg Rotary.

He loves to talk about food, so the next time you see him, begin the conversation by asking about anything related to that topic and you won’t be bored.


CN Horn Tooting


Laura Osborne, Laura's Framing Place, celebrated 25 years in business on Nov 8, 2016.  Laura started in picture framing in Nov 1983.  She's practically a pro by now, framing your memories.

Michael Temple, Temple Development Corporation, just finished an international web site for ISFA (International Surface Fabricators Association) the site is fully responsive on all devices and sports a full custom built content management system on the back end as well as member management and registration systems. Finally, it manages all of their publications and news feeds.

After working for a year with Woodland Home Builders, as their interior designer, Simony Silva, Designs-by-Simony, LLC, was promoted to on-site designer manager. She will be spending most of her time with new construction and supervising installation of the design elements. She’s very excited for all the work coming her way in 2017!

Kym Cragel, Wellness Fix, will be a contributing writer about Sport Psychology Issues on both Dave's Running Website, under "The Shoe Guru" and in Alisha Bruhl's, PT of 3D Wellness, monthly newsletter.  

Sarah Krafty, Krafty Travel, is excited to announce a new monthly event by Krafty Travel called Travel Tastings. Come try tastings of wine, beer and food to give you some travel inspiration and a new topic each month.  A fun opportunity to network, try some new food or beverages and get inspired. Our first destination is Alaska on December 8. Check it out at

Nick Nigro, Davis College, just received the 2016 Outstanding Career Services Award from the Ohio Association of Career Colleges and Schools. He received it in 2015 as well. It is an honor and a great recognition to the College. He loves serving the students and building relationships within our community. The CN community has been very supportive and what he leaned in the class and from teaching it has been so vital to his personal and professional success. He’s been at Davis 17 years and has received this honor three times.

Julie Spann Johnson will be celebrating two years as an agent with State Farm Insurance on January 1, 2017!

Jennifer Wenzke, reports that The So Now Professional Network for Women awarded a total of $5,000 to three businesswomen at their October event held at the Toledo Country Club. Two of the three winners,- Andi Henning and Beth Boehr - were CN graduates.  Jenny Vonier was the third recipient. Thank you to COO Carole Conner and committee chair, Debby Peters, for all of their hard work.
Newest Grads!
by Debby Peters,
Our semi-annual graduation events are always fun and exciting.  It is always interesting to hear what the new students have to say about the class and also to hear who the new MVP is.  Nov 21st, didn’t disappoint!

From Jason’s Friday morning class, three of the five students were able to attend and hear Jason say how much he had enjoyed teaching the group.  And that is not always the same for each class!  Don Miller, GroundSpeed™, was not able to attend because he had to attend a funeral, but sent a few words via a text to share what he thought of the class.  He said, “The Connext Nation class was not only a great manual, it was a journey.  In a class setting, we had a team of people working to help me find my niche industry, learn how to work with other personalities, the ability to share why I do what I do and the tools to use networking to build better relationships. The biggest hidden treasure from the class was how to identify and build a relationship with a referral teammate.  If it were not for this class, I don’t think I would have the tools to do this right, if at all.”

From this class Dee Sabo was chosen by DeDe Ruckman as the class MVP.  Dee who works for the David J. Gluckle Agency, Nationwide Insurance, chose the Toledo Gospel Rescue Mission as the beneficiary of the check given in her honor.  

A first for our graduations, the first Networking 101 class was recognized too.  Of the three students, two were able to attend.  Brittany Stapleton, Interactive Design Solutions and Brittany Kreft, Pro Edge Lawn Care, both shared the best of the 5 week class that they experienced.  Grad Lindsay Rozelle, Luckybird Photography, was home with her baby.  A new graduation gift for this class only is a hybrid business card that looks more like a baseball trading card.  They can use this when meeting with networking contacts to share some quick information about themselves.  Debby got the idea from Don Wakeman,CEO of St. Lukes Hospital, who presented this idea when he spoke at the Maumee Chamber.  He said the cards help to start conversations between patients and all those hospital staff they encounter.

We are now within a stone’s throw of 800 grads, but what is important is that these 8 people who were just added were of the quality that we want to represent our community.  Welcome and come get active!


Referral Pursuit Refresher
by Kerri Brimmer,
It’s been a while since you took the Connext Nation course and you may have let some of the good habits you learned during the class drop. You realize this as you walk out of your group meeting and did not make any new connections. Oops. Here is a quick refresher of keeping your relationships progressing from Awareness to Relating to a referral Team. 
For example:  you sit next to Bob at a networking event. You know you’ve seen him here before and fortunately he has on a name tag. You:
   A. Say nothing while pretending to read the agenda. 
   B. Say “Crazy weather today, eh?” and proceed with small talk until the presentation begins.
   C. Greet Bob with, “Good to see you again Bob. What is keeping you busy this week?”
Nerves can insist you choose A or B, but C is your choice. It will lead to more in-depth conversation and you’ll actually learn something about Bob. You can always tell when you have a good question because there will be a brief pause while he processes that you actually want to listen to him and reflects on his answer. He thinks, “these events aren’t so bad after all!”.  As he answers, look for icebergs (topics that have just broken the surface) and dig deeper to find out more. 
Great questions to begin with:
1. What are your biggest challenges at the moment?
2. How has the economy affected your business?
3. What’s been good about your week?
4. What do you like about your job?
5. What advice would you give to a student wanting to work in your field?
6. What networking groups do you belong to? Which is your favorite? Why?
7. What’s your story? -or- How did you come to work where you are?
Follow up questions can dig deeper, and give you insight into personality, talents, skills, connections and common ground. Sometimes the conversation is lopsided, since you started with the questions, so don’t forget step two. The last question of your conversation, if it is going well, should be, “When can we get together for a 1-2-1? I’d love to hear more about your business.”

60 Seconds to Make Them Put Down their Smart Phone!
by Debby Peters,

Recently I had the opportunity to hear author and business consultant, Sam Horn speak.  Years ago, Scott Ginsberg, turned me on to Sam and her wonderful book, “Pop!”  Sam calls herself the Intrigue Expert.  She says that at the most you only have 60 seconds to help someone decide whether to do business with you or not.  She also mentions that confused people don’t say yes, so you’ve got to keep it simple.  She shared several steps to make that happen.
#1 “Don’t Wing It, W5 it!”  What idea do you want to promote, who is the decision maker and what kind of mood are they in, where and when will this meeting take place, why will it be a ROI for the decision maker and equally important, why will it be a ROI for you?
#2 “Open with a 60 second intro that will get the phones down and eyebrow up!”  She has a formula she uses, but her big warning was to not deliver too much information which she calls “infobesity!”
#3 “Turn a no in a yes.”  Address objections and elephants in the room immediately.  A young girl, who because of her stature looked even younger, was making a presentation to receive money to fund her project.  She started her talk by saying, “You may be thinking, “What’s a 13 year old girl know about….”  She defused their main objection right away and did it with humor.
This just scratches the surface of wonderfully creative ideas that Sam has to offer.  I recommend going to her website at to find many more tidbits of knowledge that will change the way you talk about your business.


Why Bother?
by Debby Peters,

In the last couple months, I have been at a couple business expos and I observed behavior that makes me wonder, “Why bother?” 
I have seen exhibitors sit behind their exhibit display working away on their smart (dumb) phone never making eye contact with the visitors passing by.  Don’t they know that it is their job to greet and welcome these guests into their space?  No one is going to go up to a business person unless they receive a smile and a feeling of welcome.  I would recommend that if you are exhibiting that you might want to get rid of the chairs behind your table as they should not really be used.
Conversely, I saw great networking in action at the Maumee Chamber Expo, when CN grad and trainer, Krisi Vadnais helped me at the Connext Nation booth.  We both stood in front waiting for our guests to arrive, but Krisi went a step farther.  As a new person would approach, she would extend her hand to shake hands with the unsuspecting person and also quickly introduced herself.  I watched as almost everyone stopped and chatted with her and isn’t that what it is all about?
I don’t know about you, but when I give several hours of my time and also financially underwrite a marketing attempt such as this, the last thing I want to do is to just wait away the time until I can leave.  But even better, I learned a lesson from Krisi on how to make the time payoff even better.

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