Leading others to better business

Jackson Bell

If the Burbank Leads Club were a Hollywood-themed party game,

longtime member John Nelseftuen said it would probably be called

“Three Degrees of Kevin Bacon.”


“What it does is takes the normal six degrees of separation and

cuts it in half,” he said.

A referral-based networking organization, the Burbank Leads Club

is the local chapter of the Ali Lassen’s Leads Club, an umbrella


organization with 5,500 members and 400 chapters in the United

States, Australia, Ireland and throughout South America. Its method

of operation is to group businesspeople from different industries to

build rapport and share referrals.

“It’s basically like having access to the Rolodexes of 27 other

people,” said Bill Arbogast, the club’s director and owner of Excel

Communications, a start-up phone company.

Nelseftuen, a four-year member and owner of a public- relations


business, claims 15% of his business at Stellar Communications is a

result of club connections. And Arbogast estimates about one-third of

the Burbank members have connected him with new clients.

The Burbank Leads Club avoids competition between its members by

categorizing them according to industry and only allowing one in

each. For example, the club’s categories include marketing, real

estate and pool cleaning.

The club began nationally in 1978, and the Burbank chapter opened


13 years ago. Last year, Nelseftuen said its 27 members garnered

$643,586 worth of revenues from referrals and $799,504 in 2001. Those

figures are based on sales each member attributes to referrals,

Nelseftuen said.

When compared to other similar networking organizations, Arbogast

is hesitant to place them side by side, and instead said that curious

businesses should do their homework to see which is best for them.

“It comes down to the quality of the members in each one,” he

said. “The numbers speak for themselves, especially since we’re the

most profitable chapter of Leads Clubs in Southern California.”

The annual membership is $336, plus $10 for the weekly breakfast