Breakfast Club looks to connect business owners, build ‘family’
Simple Minds, Judd Nelson, and a sandwich made up of Cap’n Crunch and Pixy Stix sugar — no, this isn’t the 1980s John Hughes film. But Trumbull does have a Breakfast Club of its own now thanks to Carissa Gulyas, who started the networking group in February.
The Breakfast Club of Trumbull is the first of its kind in Fairfield County, joining a collection of nine other networking groups around the state.
“I found The Breakfast Club Networking Groups in Connecticut and I really liked their vision and format and knew others would like it too, but they were all way too far for me,” said Gulyas, a Trumbull resident and owner of Your Wish Travel Co. “There were none in the local area, only ones up near Hartford and in the northeastern part of the state.
“I contacted the owner and expressed interest in starting a group here in Fairfield County,” she said.
Founded by Melissa Bochet about nine years ago, the other Breakfast Clubs are made up of committed networkers experienced in their own field with a focus on effectively giving solid leads and introductions to fellow club members.
Gulyas said she didn’t alter the model much when setting up the club in Trumbull.
“We’re all individuals who own a business or who are coming from a business in a certain field,” she explained. “We have someone in commercial security systems; we have a financial planner; and we have a family attorney.
“It’s a really nice range of people,” she said. “It’s not all just travel agents getting together.”
In fact, Gulyas said she’d like a limit of one person per industry in the club.
Currently, the club has 12 members and meets at Grace Episcopal Church on Main Street from 8:30 to 10 a.m. on the first and third Wednesdays of every month.
“We have a lot of room for industries to join,” Gulyas said. “Ideally, we’d like to have a maximum of 30 to 35 business people; if it were any more, then it’d be too big.”
She said some of the industries The Breakfast Club of Trumbull would like to add is a Realtor, a mortgage broker and a contractor — could be a home builder, an electrician or a plumber.
“What we’re doing is helping each other with promotions and cross references — building leads and figuring out the ways different businesses can help one another,” Gulyas said.
Feeling like family
Gulyas said the broad purpose of the group is for the individuals to get to know one another on a personal level — not just what their respective businesses might be working on.
“We have these fun, thought-provoking questions that have really helped us get to know each other so much more than we ever thought we could,” she said. “And because we’ve gotten to known each other so well there’s more trust — there’s more of a willingness to send somebody to that person or that business.”
With a trust established, Gulyas said the club’s members are beginning to “feel like a family.”
“I’m really proud of the group and how we’ve all bonded and everything we’ve accomplished so far,” she said. “It’s professional and productive but we like to have fun — it’s not strict, regimented or uptight at all...
“We want to improve each other’s businesses but we also want to get to know each other and help each other on a personal level, too,” she added.
Having the business owners and workers with experience in their respective fields helps, Gulyas said, but there are other factors that separate the breakfast clubs from other networking groups.
The first is the laid-back meeting schedule.
“Unlike other groups that meet every week, The Breakfast Club meets twice a month and encourages coffee dates in between,” she said. “Because our members are successful entrepreneurs and businesses, they have demanding schedules and good networkers don’t need to meet every week to stay focused on passing leads and introductions.”
Gulyas believes limiting one industry per member is also another component that other groups lack.
Additionally, she points to each group member having a website — an online support system that isn’t matched elsewhere.
“In between meetings, members receive a newsletter that updates the group on new members, upcoming events,” she said of how members stay interconnected even when meetings are over.
Finally, looking at price, Gulyas believes this group is the best bang for your buck with a one-time $100 entry fee and a $75 quarterly fee.
The first two meetings are free.
“No longer will you be expected to pay room fees along with an expensive membership fee,” she said. “The Breakfast Club charges a reasonable fee that can be paid quarterly and includes the room fee, meeting schedule, roster of names and more...
“We provide breakfast coffee and food at no additional fee. We also provide additional gatherings like picnics and holiday parties,” she added.
The Breakfast Club also offers “cash back” through an ongoing monthly contest and referral cash when someone you bring into the group joins.
Gulyas said the group has talented incoming speakers provide presentations at special times which all breakfast club members are welcome to attend at no charge.
Besides a real estate agent and a mortgage broker, the breakfast club is looking for a hair dresser, a makeup artist, a photographer, and a restaurant owner.
“We are passing leads because each one of us wants to, not because we have to — that makes all the difference in the world in actually growing your business,” Gulyas said.
In addition to the family attorney, the financial advisor and the commercial security systems manager, the group also has an personal training business, an orthodontist, a web consultant, a long-term health care insurance professional, a bookkeeper for small businesses and a home and auto insurance agent.
“If you work or run a business in any other industry, please contact me for more information on attending our meetings,” Gulyas said.
“My personal goal isn’t to start another breakfast club in Fairfield County — I’m fully committed to making this one in Trumbull the best group possible,” she added. “
For more information, go to breakfastclubct.com or call Gulyas at 203-223-0127. Her email is TravelwithCarissa@gmail.com.