by Chip Ramsey
Scott Boles and Chip Ramsey saw the importance of networking long ago and how when done right, networking could help them in both their professional and personal lives. They had attended too many networking events where cheesy (and “down right creepy”) people would approach them, say “hello my name is Johnny Salesperson”, talk to them for a couple of minutes, ask “so what do you do for a living” and then shove a business card down their throats. They knew that developing two-way, beneficial relationships, sometimes turning into friendships, was the way they had always conducted business. So, they figured, why not “do the same” and develop a networking group on their own.
Scott and Chip worked together from 2000 – 2005 with a local company and noticed how a lot of their customers, business associates, friends and other professionals weren’t as connected as they should be. Their connections were always seeking other resources that, at times, Scott and Chip couldn’t provide. Fortunately, through the years, partnerships had developed and connections were made and “9 times out of 10” both could refer their contacts to other professionals, business partners and outside resources that could, and would, help them in their professional roles.
As time went on, introducing others, developing partnerships, even conducting business during lunch, on the golf course and over a “happy hour” drink or two, became part of their daily professional (and social) lives. One day, Scott had a “cubicle awakening” and said to Chip, “we should start our own group…what do you think of the name, The GETDOT Networking Group?” Chip, always being skeptical of Scott’s ideas, asked “what does that mean…what does GETDOT stand for?” Scott slyly replied “Good Excuse To Drink On Thursdays”. Brilliant! And, the rest is history!
Chip and Scott began to plan a happy hour “here and there” and met at some of their favorite local establishments. They invited some of their closest professional friends…George Kademenos, Barb Letcher, Chris McGovern, Jim McGannon and Mark Villilo…just to name a few. Someone always needed a resource, had to have an HR question answered, asked if they knew anyone who could fill an open position, meet someone they had heard good things about or simply wanted to hang out after work. Whomever Scott and Chip brought to the table, someone knew the answer…or, they knew someone else who knew the answer. Although meetings and happy hours were very inconsistent at first, momentum began to build, word spread and more and more people began to attend their “once or twice” per quarter happy hours.
One thing that Scott and Chip really noticed, NO ONE exchanged business cards until a card was asked for. People really got to know one another in the different informal settings and truly learned about each other’s professional and personal lives. No one was “in your face” or talked “sales-y”. These new friends figured out ways to help each other…genuinely…or would connect people to others with conversations developing out of those introductions.
The group continued to grow and Chip took on more of the administrative role, putting together distribution lists and communicating through email. More people wanted to be added to “the list” and kept apprised of the next “event”. Things became “official” when GETDOT’s premier event was hosted at the Winking Lizard Crosswoods on Thursday, April 27, 2006. Between 60 and 70 people attended this first official event. As an added bonus, business card drawings were held for door prizes donated by local sponsors. Prizes included an Archie Griffin autographed mini football helmet and gift cards to local restaurants. The events began to take off and GETDOT started to utilize LinkedIn in February 2009 to begin communicating with the “masses”. By the end of 2009, GETDOT had over 500 members.
Scott and Chip saw that bringing like-minded people together in a fun and energetic environment was very rewarding. GETDOT always facilitated the development of friendships through professional relationships and business connections, but Scott and Chip wanted to make more of a difference. With the help of a Board, they knew they could make a huge difference in the lives of the children in the central Ohio community by supporting local children’s charities. With this as their goal, Scott and Chip created the first GETDOT Board of Directors in 2009. The first official Board meeting held in December of 2009 included members Jim McGannon, Barb Letcher, Jennifer St. John, Jennifer Decello, April Holbrook, Russ Faulkner, Christina Danehart, Keith Lampe and Amy Lampe.
On February 15, 2010, not long after the Board was formed, GETDOT hosted its first website and membership began to spike, reaching 1000 Members on July 18, 2010. Soon after, local GETDOT chapters in Cincinnati (hosted by Tom Mobley) and Nashville (hosted by Matt Shorter) were formed.
On February 22, 2010, GETDOT became incorporated as a non-profit organization and became better known as the “Good Excuse To Donate On Thursdays” Networking Group with proceeds at each event generated from organized silent auctions and raffle prize giveaways going to a particular children’s charity. On January 20, 2011, the IRS recognized GETDOT as a tax exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3).
GETDOT has implemented the current 15-person Board, developed the new website you see here, hosted events at over 20 venues, helped by over 40 different sponsors (one of which includes Saia & Piatt who was the first year-long sponsor and has supported the development of the website) and, most importantly, donated tens of thousands of dollars, toys and playground items to local children’s charities. We are now over 3,000 members strong!
We hope that everyone who is a member of GETDOT and/or attends one of our fantastic events will tell everyone they know about the good things we’re doing. We host the best networking events in Central Ohio, help create the best networking experiences, and introduce others to develop long lasting, professional (and personal) connections. We encourage you to get involved to help us support some great local children’s charities in the Columbus area!