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,
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