Kirsty Fonzari, the marketing head of Expand-A-Sign, has formed BrandCult – a small but potent network of business-minded individuals who meet bi-monthly to inspire each other’s entrepreneurial interests. There are no membership fees and the meet-up doesn’t run over three hours. All who attend leave feeling inspired.
The meet-up started in 2013 with no more than eight people and has grown to become a diverse group of 12. Its members’ professions include life coach, designer, experiential marketer, occupational intelligence specialist, brand strategist and NGO expert. As the spheres are so diverse, each person brings a particular specialised skillset to the group from which everyone can benefit.
‘We’re all different, so we learn from each other and give each other different perspectives. All the input given ensures we’re not trapped in our own ‘world’. As the overall group’s mission is ‘be a learner – don’t be trapped’, everyone has to come with an open mind and be willing to share experiences as well as help others,’ said Fonzari.
During each meet-up, a group member will present something that will be of value to everyone. Afterwards, participants are encouraged to debate the subject, explore how they could potentially use the insights gained in their own business as well as share any challenges relating to the subject. What you won’t hear, however, is moaning. BrandCult is a mindfully positive group where problems are met with solutions, not commiseration.
‘The last session involved a talk that had also been presented to a very large organisation by one of our members,’ said Fonzari. ‘The subject was personal branding and how to make it work for your business, any marketing strategy, personal growth and even how to overcome challenges within a team,’ said Fonzari.
While BrandCult’s rich networking environment allows its members to benefit from the best within their fields, it’s also a wonderfully supportive ‘business family’. ‘One individual changed careers, and another opened a new business – all thanks to insights and assistance from the collective,’ said Fonzari. ‘It’s about connecting people and not operating in a silo. In a way, it’s like having 12 expert consultants working on your company.’
Fonzari encourages individuals to form their own micro-networks, regardless of where they are in South Africa. ‘Working alone can be wonderful, but benefiting from expert collective insight is invaluable,’ said Fonzari.