If you’re planning to go into business, the best time to do it is very early in the morning. This is the impression you’d get if you were in Carluccio’s restaurant in Putney at 7am last Thursday. If you’d ventured outside at that hour, you would have seen a large group of suited businessmen and women filing into the restaurant, eager for both networking opportunities and really, really strong coffee.

This was the inaugural Breakfast Indaba, masterminded by the directors of Blue Sky Publications, who publish The South African. The concept? Relationships. Specifically, the building of, with the goal of furthering one’s business and business contacts. Early morning snacks came courtesy of Biltong Place, who won the Best Overall category in the recent 2011 Biltong Taste Awards.

The assembled company ranged from dentists, design gurus and directors to accountants and assistant managers. Once everyone was seated and served (fried eggs with pancetta seemed to be the popular choice) the story went as follows: you’ve got 60 seconds to outline who you are and what you do. Stand up and make it count.

Of course, this wasn’t just about so-called elevator pitches. Slightly longer talks were given by Mike Miller and Peter Wentzel, both of the South African Chamber Of Commerce, and Dr June Bam-Hutchinson, an academic and author who spoke about her new book on living in South Africa during Apartheid.

What was surprising about the event, given its South African connotations, was the number of non-South Africans present. One of these was Malcolm Brabon, director of Venn Business Solutions. “I was delighted, but not surprised, by the welcome,” he said. “For me, it was a great opportunity to highlight the opportunities provided by the Olympics and the Rugby World Cup.”

By the time people left for work, there was no doubt nets had been worked and contacts had been tactfully conned into parting with their details. “I think it was fantastic,” said Karen Black of Mamba Media. “It was really useful. In terms of opportunities and contacts, it was great.” Roland Wilmans of signage group Disturbance said the event was something businesses could get a lot out of. “We need to meet more – it’s all about relationship building,” he added.

Said Brabon, “I would recommend membership to everyone from, or with an interest in, South Africa and the mix of businesses there today proved it will be one of the best networks to join.”

Elinor Middleton, representing Starfish charity, won the £100 voucher to the South African themed Shaka Zulu restaurant, which is also holding a Fathers Day braai on 19 June.

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