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Answers from Elena Ornig about People First Networking event.

Join us in our monthly networking drinks!

I am thrilled to present to you – People First Networking hosted by People First Solutions for the last 12 months by Alina Oldfield and Renae Gibbs.

Alina Oldfield at Networking event.

Alina Oldfield.

I know! I know exactly what you think, “It’s boring, its business and not entertainment”. I felt the same before I went there for one reason only – to see the next performance of Justice Draconis for my article and following interview. But I can tell you right now, “It wasn’t boring!”  It was quite informative, entertaining and rewarding.  I was converted to a fan and even won a tempting bottle of red at the end. So, stay with me and you will find out many interesting things you more than likely don’t know, never heard of or have ever seen. I have included many interactive links to other websites and YouTube. I interviewed a few people from local businesses who you might even recognize on incorporated photos. My first question was addressed to Renee Gibbs.“Why and how did you come up with the idea to organised this event, and how popular is it?”

Renae at Networking event.

Renae Gibbs.

“For years we were going around to many similar events and we felt frustrated and disappointed because we realized it wasn’t working for us, so we made the right decision and created our own eventPeople First Networking. Its fun, it’s enjoyable and it’s worked well for us. Now, many businesses know who we are and we know them on a more personal level. But it is not just about us. The business representatives, who come here once a month, are successfully networking for their mutual benefit; they exchange knowledge, experience and wisdom. That is why it’s getting bigger and gaining popularity.” Now, I wonder, “How popular is it?” I don’t really know but I am reasoning with what people think about popularity. Some would say it’s all about huge attendance numbers, some will tell you it’s all about the percentage of the same people returning to the next event, and I will tell you that when I see people rushing, and a few did, in fear of being late and missing something – that is definitely popular from my point of view! Anthony Rogers was literally running and I found that ironic because his company is called Sponge on the Run. He needed a couple of extra breaths before he was able to tell me all about his business.


Anthony Rogers.

“I am here today for more exposure. Our business has been established on the Gold Coast for about ten years. I am always running because we are growing very fast and some time we do not have enough staff in the field. In such situations I personally step in to make sure that every client is served on time. We clean high-rises, cars, windows, cobwebs, gutters, garage doors, patio/pergolas and driveways; and we clean them internally and externally. We use purified water and our cleaning products are biodegradable in 7 days which makes us so very different when compared with others. We are popular and quite busy.” He runs away toward the gathering crowd around the central bar stand. I lose no time and walk toward two business ladies to talk with them – Donna Meadows and Merrilee Howard. Donna is the Business Development Manager from WEALTHFARM  – Financial Planning Advice and she said: “We actually change people lives. We develop Debt reduction and Health creation strategies. We help with planning Share and Property Investments. We help with Personal and Business Succession planning, and Pre-Retirement and Retirement planning, and we help people with planning Mortgages. By helping people with financial planning and strategies we are changing their lives.” She is very convincing, confident and business like. I believe her and recommend to my readers to go via this link in order to find out more if they need help with any financial planning.


Merrilee Howard.

Merrilee is also a Business Development Manager, only in a quite different field. She works for CLE (link to Corporate & Leisure Events) who will help any business, from locating the best venue and negotiating the best price on their behalf, to organizing total events like: conferences, seminars, product launches, charity fund raisers and certainly the best Christmas parties you could wish for. She is here for the first time and she was invited by Justine Draconis, just as I was. Like me, she came just to see what he does. I felt that special bond straight away. She is one of us – the creative people. I would love to have talked to her more but I then had to pay attention to Renee and Alina who were introducing a lucky draw from everybody’s business cards that we put into a special urn at the beginning of the event. The first business card that Alina retrieved belonged to some gentlemen who had mysteriously disappeared from the event. He was gone and my luck just increased by one. The next card belonged to a lady in pink and my chance to win just decreased by one. The next business card was taken out and the name announced… and guess what – it was my name. That is exactly how I won the bottle of red. I am not a gambler, but instantly I felt rewarded, re-energized and ready to continue my favorite job, interviewing. But I had to wait, because the lady in pink took her place in front of the people and her highly informative speech created silence for a few minutes. It was good because it was extremely informative and factual. When she concluded her talk, Justice Draconis began his skilful ‘Fire eating’ performance that unfortunately was very short as it was only meant to be an introduction. I can only say that the short introduction, without the proper stage set up, lighting and music, didn’t do justice for Justice Draconis. I was not disappointed because I am seeing his full show on up-coming Sunday.

Kenze, Elena and Tara

From left to right: Kenze, Elena and Tara.

As soon as I was free to move around again, I approached Tara and Kenze from VMA (Visual marketing Australia). Kenze is from France where she is studying Finance and Marketing, and she in Australia via an internship program to learn Marketing. Tara, on the other hand, had graduated with considerable knowledge in Communication & Media and Public Relations. She works in Marketing and Production at VMA and happily answered my question of what her company does. “We are an Online Marketing Solutions Provider. We build custom designed websites, we offer domain names registration and we provide webhosting. We offer SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and our online marketing solutions include email marketing and marketing strategy. We also create, produce and deliver Online Video Advertisements for our clients and we help our customers to increase competitive advantage with our Online Marketing Strategy. You can find everything about us on our website.” She was short and precise as an experienced professional. However, I always check before I project my opinion. I checked their website and it looks and functions quite impressively. They definitely know what they doing, and as an experienced websites owner (I have three) I can tell you that their pricing is as fair as it can be; and believe me- I know all prices from inside out. So, if you are thinking of creating your own website or blog you should consider them. If you are looking for any online marketing solutions – VMA must be on your preference list. This is my well researched and honest opinion. I was enjoying this event very much and I loved the opportunity to meet with new people, and next was Tony Ciappara, mortgage broker from the independent finance broking company Queensland Financial Services Pty Ltd. He is comely, collected and polite – a real gentlemen. I asked, “I assume that as a mortgage broker you are in great demand considering the current economic situation of the Housing Market, right?” “Almost everyone has a mortgage and I specialize in helping to find the most appropriate mortgage for my clients. I help them to save their time and money by avoiding the money lending rejections through knowing and understanding the different lender’s policies. Even if at the end of the day people will be unable to borrow, I can help them to save their time instead of them running around in circles. I understand very well how to manage cash flow and my advice can help them to avoid manageable in reality losses. When people talk to me, it usually takes about 30 minutes for me to assess their financial situation and tell them if I can help them. Even if I cannot help them I might be able to refer them to someone else who can. We do not know what we do not know unless we ask.” Well, Tony if my readers would need your advice how they can reach you? “They can call me on 0409 041 928 and we can meet because I prefer to work face to face. If, during such a meeting, we come to the conclusion of restructuring their finances or refinance their mortgage, we will proceed with lenders. It is not one method or one fix for everyone, and as a financial adviser I will overview their financial assets and will offer a customized solution. Say I am General Practitioner. I will make the right diagnosis and if it is necessary, I will refer the patient to a specific specialist, one who specializes in the area of concern. Legal or tax areas for example are very specific areas, and I have enough knowledge to determine if an extra meeting with a legal practitioner, solicitor or tax agent is necessary.” I was actually really pleased that I came here. The amount of specific information that I received in just a couple of hours is very valuable knowledge, indeed. I was getting even hungrier for more. My next “treasure box” full of knowledge was Profit Growth Specialist – Alan Harding. On his business card it states: “I can help your business grow”. But I needed more. I need real ‘unwrapped’ answers here. “I am working in Better Business International Pty Ltd and I am a Marketing Consultant. I don’t do advertising and I don’t sell advertising. I do Marketing consultancy and business coaching, or more simply said, I help businesses to find and implement new and innovative marketing strategies that get results.  The owners of the businesses might have a great product or provide fantastic service, but they have no idea how to market. This is a shame, because without marketing their potential customers have no idea what these companies can offer. Marketing makes all the difference between being unknown and struggling to being flooded with customers and prosperous. That is what I specialize in: growing ones business, growing ones customer base and therefore growing turnover that results in huge profits. For years I was doing that for my companies, and for the last three years it has become my own personal passion to help small business to grow and succeed. The real secret is in my personal experience because I know exactly what works and what doesn’t work. Business owners must realise that marketing is capital investment in growth and not just extra spending. They also have to understand one simple but powerful fact, that 90% of the success or failure in most businesses depends on their Marketing. I am very confident and my results speak for themselves, that is why I do not work on a contract base, instead I work on an agreement basis; I work with my clients because I know that I can deliver.” Alan, you described the power of the Marketing so well, and I totally agree with you, but where can business owners find you and how they can they contact you? “They can call: 0419 307 811 and the first hour free, or they can email to me: The ‘treasure box’ with powerful knowledge had to walk away because I was not the only one who wanted to ask Alan Harding some questions, but I know where to find him and that was good enough for now.

Justice, Alan and Tony.

From left to right: Justice Draconis, Alan Harding and Tony Ciappara

Today, however, I felt like I was blessed from above. Can you imagine that you meet a business coach with the catchy name ‘Catch’ and then discover that his role is Business Guru? Please try to imagine it because in fact, that is exactly what happened to me almost right at the end of the People First Networking Event. His real name is Catch Blackburn. When I checked it out later on his Website of National College of Business – I confirmed that everything he said was true. Remember the saying that if something sounds like it is too good to be true it is most likely untrue? Well, I can only say that this must be the real exception. Business Guru Catch is a fast talker and he has an overwhelming passion that can almost knock you over. He very eloquently explained their magic method of educating and training business owners. “We are a Business College, set up by business owners themselves, to provide a practical hub for other business owners to come in and learn how to grow their companies in the most efficient way. We have wide access to professionals, tools and resources, and we teach how to apply those tools and resources. We are really about three key aspects:

  • We are passionate about sharing experience and getting around keen business owners; sharing ideas and learning from each other.
  • We share the knowledge of how to apply the tools and the resources.
  • We create a supportive environment with consistent coaching and mentoring.

Generally, we are very interactive and practical in our support structure for small businesses. The system is street smart and you can literally learn it today and apply it the next day. It teaches you everything from planning to Marketing. You can be a sole trader or a company that is turning over up to ten million dollars, it doesn’t matter. Our coaching staff is very experienced and they run their own businesses. They have been teaching, training, coaching and mentoring people for the last eight years and have helped about 800 businesses. We are also a registered training organisation. We get access to some Government grants to help fund training and leadership development skill. We work with local businesses on the Gold Coast, helping them to grow and develop their businesses and we are expanding. We are already in Brisbane and soon will be in Melbourne. We are so successful because it’s all about results for us, and our education program and training is very affordable. We actually give business owners our financial warranty that makes us accountable to results. That also means that from the many businesses that apply to us we do not take everybody; they first have to qualify. They have to tell us why we should help them and this is a matter of our high reputation, which we value a lot. What is important to remember here is that our main intention is to increase the success rate of small & medium sized businesses in Australia .That’s it, full stop.” Wait one minute! Where can business owners find you? Dial: 1300 76 77 74 Call: (07) 5575 9653;   (07) 5575 9653 And off he went… Great! Let them network but I was dying for a cup of coffee. The area around me was filled with many people, including diners sitting outside. Instead of describing this place to you I give you the link to see a video that I found on YouTube  it is called “The Ally Cat On Chevron Island”. As you have seen, it is a sophisticated, trendy and comfy place. Impressed? I was too, but when I heard the price for a cup of coffee I was stunned. In a great place like this and only $3.50, compared to countless less luxurious places around the Gold Coast with a price of $4.50! How come? I needed to know more about this place and for that I had to talk to the owner or manager and I did. I talked to the Manager –Tracy, because the owners were never there as I found out. They leave this place to Tracy to run. The irony is that the five owners- Simon Bubear, Cameron Turnbull, Timothy Martin, Kris Chambers and Chris Jones are in fact friends and for years they were dissatisfied in finding a perfect place to relax and to socialize. Eventually, they came up with the idea to create the best hanging out place for themselves with nice food, wine and atmosphere. In 2010, they opened “The Ally Cat” and…they never come here, because they are now too busy to enjoy it. However, their dream place serves locals and many tourists spectacularly well. Their idea in reality is even better. I am not exaggerating. Listen to the real pro who knows this place back and forward. She is a young, energetic, friendly, talkative and very attractive lady. Tracy held nothing back when I asked her about her usual customers. “Our usual customer range is generally of a wide age category. We have many families for lunch and dinner because “The Ally cat” is family friendly. Many come here to catch up with friends after work or discuss some business during the day-time. Our range of special occasions is wide: from 80th Birthday parties to 21sts. We even organize wedding anniversaries and business events like today. Just call us: 07 5667 9528; or come in (Shop 6-8/37 Thomas Drive, Chevron Island) or email us (; or check out our website. I was stunned by your fair price for a cup of coffee. What about your food prices? Are they also reasonable? “Oh, very much so… We are already popular because our place and service is top quality, but our prices are very down to earth. We have a special $15.00 deal (250 grams glam stake with chips and salad plus glass of wine, champagne, beer or any soft drink) for locals on Thursday, from 5pm. I will tell you even more. At the moment we are working on a new extra menu. We are trying to develop extra dishes for our lunch menu that are still high quality but simplified so it will give us the opportunity to bring prices down to $10.00 for lunch. We are doing this because we want to increase corporate clientele; for them to have an informal business meeting or a business lunch here will be their best choice. We are also focusing on extra dishes like pizzas and tapas for our dinner menu. Again, the reason behind it is the same – reasonable prices for high quality food and service.” Tracy, I am very impressed already. Is there anything you are working on that will make me believe I am your biggest fan? “Yes, there is. We are developing a new deal “Members drive” for our customers: local and also tourists as well. It is simple and rewarding. As a customer you will fill in application form and you will receive our member card with 10% off of everything. It will only exclude full bottle of wine discount and discount during happy hours time (daily from 4pm-6pm). This is still in development and not confirmed yet, but we are already working on it. We also have a great entertainment range of singers and musicians performing here in the afternoon or evening, on weekends. We are different to night clubs with heavy drinking and very loud music. We are more about friendly, relaxing socializing and full of fun entertainment. But if you like night clubs, we are the perfect launching pad. You come here, relax, eat, catch up with friends and colleagues; and have fun and entertainment. But if you want to continue, we are just a short distance away from Surface Paradise night clubs. What Tracy didn’t know was that even before I came here I was hoping that this place would not be too loud and like the East club where Justice Draconis performed, where while having fun I could still hear people I am talking to; it was not too loud. After everything I have seen and heard I am now converted into a real fan of “The Ally Cat”; I will be back the very next month to network at the next People First Networking event, and with sheer pleasure, I will loudly and proudly spread their business gospels around. Hallelujah!

People at networking event.

Join us in our monthly networking drinks!

Networking event.

This relaxed, fun and rewarding networking function provides an opportunity to exchange details, set appointments with the view to gain new business and build referrals.

At The Ally Cat

This event will be held on the 2nd Thursday of each month at the The Ally Cat in Chevron Island.

People First Networking – TESTIMONIALS!
My warmest regards,
Visit Elena’s profile on Pinterest.

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Written by Elena Ornig

Managing Director of Publishing Company "Julia Sophistique Pty Ltd". Committee member of Australian Computer Association GC Chapter. Member of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Member of the Chamber of Commerce & Industry Queensland. Member of the IT Forum Gold Coast. Sponsor of the Helensvale Writers' Group, Gold Coast. Committee member of the Gold Coast Writers Association Honored VIP Member of STANFORD WHO'S WHO in America. Publisher, writer and blogger.



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