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Breakfast network’s new chapter

THOSE who are familiar with organised networking groups in WA could readily list names such as Executive Connection, Rotary and Young Entrepreneurs.

But despite Perth’s relatively minor population, it seems there is room for at least one more organisation around town.

Business Network International (BNI) is still in its infancy in WA, but is fast gaining popularity in the CBD and throughout the metropolitan area.

The attraction appears to be the success of the chapters, initiated by Paul Marcoux in Scarborough in October last year.

A further five chapters have started since then, two in Perth and three in the suburbs, and Mr Marcoux has reported he is working on three more, two of these in West Perth.

Each BNI chapter is established on a minimum of 12 members, each representing a distinctly different business service.

Critical mass is deemed to be 20, but Mr Marcoux says 30 members gives good leverage.

Mr Marcoux likes to describe a BNI chapter as a “marketing department owned by each member”.

Members are required to demonstrate their sense of ownership by bringing visitors to the weekly breakfast sessions, and formally reporting referrals to other members.

The structured formality and discipline has developed from the organisation’s beginnings in California in 1985, and its spread to 14 countries, including the UK, Canada and New Zealand.

The rules, policies and procedures, as well as the weekly component, are essential to the dynamics of the network, Mr Marcoux maintains.

The weekly meeting is especially important in creating a bond of trust and confidence that can be missing from within other organisations that meet less frequently.

But this trust and confidence, and the weekly one-minute presentation by each member, provide the right dynamics to support the referrals success, Mr Marcoux says.

Dynamic is a good word to describe the Skyscrapers chapter, which comes together at Elements restaurant, off Howard Street, at 7am each Thursday morning.

Corporate lawyer Mark Laeker is the president of this good-humoured group, hosted by Elements proprietor Andreas Supper.

Aside from the substantial breakfast in comfortable and pleasant surroundings, Perth’s Skyscrapers have plenty of reasons to smile at 7am on a Thursday – almost 200 in fact.

This is the number of formally recorded business referrals the 20 members have generated for each other since first getting together seven months ago. Since then, members have been telling each other each week, in one-minute grabs, what an ideal client looks like.

Business by word-of-mouth is definitely booming for this diverse group, which includes a stockbroker, printer, education consultant, taxation accountant, graphic designer, finance and mortgage broker, professional coach, pay-TV sales-person, architect, wellness consultant, web content manager, insurance broker, financial planner, human resources consultant and a wealth management professional.

Relaxed humour is a feature of the meetings, with wellness consultant Katinka Mitchell last month commencing a showcase of her Nikken business with a credible a cappella rendition of the Beatles’ song Help, when recording equipment failed.

An information session on suits made of space shuttle material that can assist athletes in the breakdown of lactic acid was followed by announcements by nine members of new referrals during the previous week.

But the previous week was much more than just referrals, with Skyscrapers members giving public raps to other members for assisting with taxation advice, a company search, critical help with a computer system, and website assistance.

The prize for the one deemed to have contributed the most for the week is awarded and it’s time to farewell Mr Supper and scurry off to do business for another week.

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