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24 September 2018Last updated
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Network clubs in the UAE

Whether you’re looking to set up your own business, want to improve your social skills or simply wish to meet people with a similar passion, there’s a social situation to suit you

By Louisa Wilkins, Deputy Editor, Aquarius magazine
24 Sep 2012 | 10:54 am
  • Networking groups in Dubai

    The Law of Attraction in Dubai started as a meet-up group and snowballed into a network of more than 4,000 people.

    Source:Supplied picture

All industries: Leading links
Financial adviser Greg Pogonowski set up Leading Links Club, a non-profit networking club, in 2009. The group meets for breakfast twice a month and members take turns chairing the meetings. Greg says, “The idea is to help provide business referrals for each other – not in terms of quantity, but in terms of quality. We believe it is better to get a really good referral that leads to business rather than lots of suspects that lead to nothing, and we do this by really getting to know the other members and their businesses in the group over a period of time.”
DOES IT WORK? Barry Cummings has been going for
14 months. He says, “Introductions to people – not just to close business, but also to ask for advice – is invaluable. Each member brings substantial networks to the table and access to those networks is priceless.”
DO IT Each session costs Dh100 and you need to be invited by a member. Visit leadinglinksclub.com.

Beauty: Dubai Beauty Business Group

British expat Irene Li, an aromatherapist who has her own anti-ageing and wellness business, set this group up after finding mixed industry networking wasn’t benefiting her. She says, “The intention was to help beauty industry networkers meet other people in the health and beauty industry so we could make referrals and help each other. I have seen this exclusive group benefit all who join.”
DOES IT WORK? Beauty professional Cassandra Lee says, “DBBG is great for beauty industry newcomers and for those already in the industry. It’s also good for finding new business, working partners or even new staff.”
DO IT There’s one session per month; Dh30 per session. For details search for the group on meetup.com or Facebook.

Referrals: BNI

This global referrals organisation has been around for decades with ‘chapters’ all over the world – including 12 here in the UAE. Each chapter can have only one member from each business category. So for example, one lawyer, one journalist, one marketing executive, and so on. Bijay Rajnikantt Shah, national director of BNI Middle East and East Africa, says, “Our philosophy is ‘givers gain’, meaning, the best way to get something from someone is to help them get what they want – what goes around comes around. In seven years, our members’ referrals have generated more than Dh200 million in business.”
DOES IT WORK? Matt Farr, founder of Mountain Quests, says, “BNI takes the business of forming relationships seriously. It provides the perfect platform for trusted referrals by giving business owners a place to meet on a regular basis in order to build strong relationships.”
DO IT The chapters meet regularly for breakfast. Email bijay@bni-me.com for info.

Positive vibes: Law of Attraction
This started as a meet-up group and snowballed into a network of more than 4,000 people. Law of Attraction teacher Lucy Mackintosh says, “The group is suitable for anyone who is interested in meeting positive, genuine people and who wants to learn how to get the best out of life. Its purpose is to inspire people to achieve their goals and meet like-minded people who can support them on their journey. We have about 100 people turn up each month.”
DOES IT WORK? Group member Angela Morgan says, “The group has been nothing but a positive experience for me. It’s a privilege to hear such great speakers at such an affordable price – not to mention meeting so many positive and like-minded people. I try to never miss an event!”
DO IT It costs Dh85 (or Dh70 if you pay in advance). To join the group, visit www.lawofattractiondubai.com.

Adventure: Rush

Set up by Phil Bedford (a kitesurfing instructor and networking expert known as the Rebel Networker) and Matt Farr (managing director of trekking tours operator Mountain Quests), Rush aims to bring extreme sports enthusiasts together. Phil says, “It’s a meet up opportunity for anyone into extreme sports who wants to have fun and perhaps expand into other sports. We do socials and trips to experience some of the sports with the group. This is done for fun and is not money making.”

DOES IT WORK? Raz Moussa, a Rush member, says, “It’s always been a challenge to find like-minded people who are involved in alternative sports here, but now we have an outlet! The group makes the UAE a nicer environment for people who want to challenge themselves.”
DO IT It’s free to join – simply find Rush on Facebook, or send an email to get on the newsletter mailing list (phil@referralinstitute-me.com; Mattfarr@mountainquests.com).

Speed Networking: Heels and deals
One of the most prevalent women’s networking groups around, Heels and Deals has had massive success both in the UAE and in Hong Kong. In addition to its regular events, it also runs Speed Networking evenings. Stevi Lowmass is the manager of the Dubai group. “Speed networking is designed to allow attendees to network with as many people as possible. Typically we get between 60 and 100 people... attendees can expect to meet at least 40 people directly for two minutes at a time,” she says.
DOES IT WORK? Sian Rowlands, architect and founder of My Ex-Wardrobe, says, “Heels and Deals has a networking side, but also an educational side... helping small business owners with skills and knowledge across a broad range of aspects of business. The speed networking events are my favourite – you meet a lot of people in a short space of time and then have the opportunity at the end to develop on any conversations you like.”
DO IT Dh170 for members, Dh200 for non-members (discounts available for early sign up). For more information, visit www.heelsanddeals.org.

Entrepreneurs: Make’s social dining nights

Make Business Hub in JBR is a great spot for meeting interesting, motivated, creative types. It regularly holds industry-specific networking evenings and workshops. However for a more general networking opportunity, check out one of Make’s Dinner with TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) nights. For Dh120 you get soft drinks, a three-course meal and screenings of inspirational TED talks. Leith Matthews, founder of Make, says, “The purpose is to bridge online connections offline, and facilitate connections between like-minded people.”
DOES IT WORK? Tony Elliott, a senior architect/interior designer, says, “I have been to a number of events at Make. The Dinner with TED social dining events are very informative and thought-provoking. After attending the Press Pause Play event, I was inspired to learn about and then create my own iBook, and I also learnt about iMovie. I have been able to network with some extremely talented and interesting people.”
DO IT Follow Make Business Hub on Facebook or visit makebusinesshub.com.

By Louisa Wilkins, Deputy Editor, Aquarius magazine

By Louisa Wilkins, Deputy Editor, Aquarius magazine