012120_networking group

Members of the Saint Simons Professional Group are pictured in the atrium of the St. Simons Island Casino.

Just two years ago, the idea for the Saint Simons Professional Group was being developed by friends Cindi Phillips, President of Financial Freedom Enterprises, and Danielle Sunderhaus, a Life Coach, Author and Motivational Speaker. Their idea was to bring a limited group of professional business owners together and help build their businesses. The group’s first meeting was in April 2019.

“We decided we wanted a networking group we could pour our combined expertise into, and be able to support and help build the members’ businesses, and in turn, help them build and support everyone else’s,” Phillips said.

Both Phillips and Sunderhaus worked to determine who would be qualified and would want to affiliate themselves with Saint Simons Professional Group.

The vision statement of Saint Simons Professional Group is, “Changing the Way the Golden Isles does business.” Its mission is “to offer St. Simons Island professionals a networking platform through which businesses can expand their business by supporting other businesses with professional, quality referrals in a structured positive environment.”

Much brainstorming was done, and a core group was formed to which new members were added. Unlike some other business groups, Saint Simons Professional Group is a closed group.

“They (new members) have to be sponsored, complete an application and provide two business references,” said Phillips, adding that proof of insurance is also required.

Full confidence in the membership of the group, which is seeking to add to its number, is a must.

“We are looking for people who provide excellent service and go above and beyond for their clients,” she said.

The first step to membership is being invited by a member of the group to attend a meeting. The prospective member is introduced, and given a membership application. Once the application is completed, the entire group votes on whether to admit the new person or not.

Phillips emphasized that the group values transparency, and conducts its business in full view of the members. Even the group’s bank statements are shared with its membership.

Dues are $100 per quarter, and the group meets weekly at the St. Simons Island Casino.

Meetings begin with a meet and greet, and a 60-second “infomercial” during which members can talk about their company, ask for referrals and give testimonials.

“This gives us a chance to brag on each other,” Phillips said.

There’s also time for coffee, and a speaker. One Wednesday a month, a guest speaker is invited to attend. Other than that, the members are also the speakers. Of course, there are also matters of housekeeping and members and group business to discuss. Topics discussed this past year have included the proposed new museum for the Pier Village area, the Golden Ray, events such as First Friday in Brunswick and the coronavirus.

“You can only miss four meetings a quarter,” said Phillips, adding that even during the COVID-19 pandemic, no meetings were missed. The organization met virtually, via Zoom.

Building business is an obvious benefit to group membership, but there are others, Phillips said, including the friendships that are formed, networking and enjoying social settings and events with other members.

There are currently 13 members of the group, all of whom enjoy the fast-paced, high-energy, no-negativity-tolerated vibe of the group.

“We are there for each other,” Phillips said. “That’s what Danielle and I do for the group, and that’s what we want them to do for each other.”

For more information about Saint Simons Professional Group, contact Cindi Phillips at 912-266-3893 or cindi@financialfreedoment.com, or Danielle Sunderhaus at 912-403-6868 or danielle@daniellesunderhaus.com. Members include Cindi Phillips, Financial Freedom Enterprises; Danielle Sunderhaus, Danielle Sunderhaus Coaching; Misty Ambrose, Elements Massage; Nicole Brown, The Shop; Carli Carswell, Specialty Cleaning Co.; Daniel Griffin, Island Bicycle; Michael Heiser, Keller Williams Realty Golden Isles; Ryan Jachimowicz, Southern Curb Appeal; Elizabeth Knittel, Pure Love & Beauty; Andrew Pedersen, Kona Ice; Brian Strickland, Coastal Mortgage Solutions; Kimberly Thames, Synovus Bank and Dr. Amber Wellman, Wellman Family Healthcare.

More from this section

Thirteen years ago, Hodnett Cooper Real Estate and Hodnett Cooper Vacation Rentals went from being one company to two. Operating solely as a vacation rental program has allowed Hodnett Cooper Vacation Rentals to focus on the hospitality industry and make improvements as the industry grows. O…

A week after backing away from the formidable engine section of the shipwrecked Golden Ray, the VB 10,000 is now in position at the other end of the vessel and could resume cutting efforts this weekend, according to Unified Command.