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The British connection

John McLoughlin makes a business out of teaching businesspeople to network

Photo: Carlos Amoedo, License: N/A, Created: 2011:04:13 23:51:09

Carlos Amoedo

Speak the speech - John McLoughlin gives small-business owners a place to network and practice their public-speaking skills

But less than a year later, McLoughlin decided to break away from the chamber and start his own organization. Since then, the chamber has shuttered three of its leads groups, while McLoughlin has added three. “It created a bit of bad will and a bit of sadness at the same time,” says Ed Beshara, president of the chamber.

It’s a testament to McLoughlin’s skill with organizing such groups, but also, his shrewdness as a businessperson. “I was doing this for other people, but I wasn’t earning any money for it,” he explains. He says that he now earns about $30,000 a year from Business Connections and puts about $5,000 back into the business annually.

Like any salesman, however, McLoughlin is prone to exaggeration. McLoughlin boasts of Business Connections groups in the United Kingdom and South Africa, but a closer look demonstrates that the said groups are similar in name only, and connections with the group in Orlando are threadbare. “I don’t think any of the members have particularly found the connection of great value,” says Gerald Sutherland, former president of The Business Connection in Cape Town, South Africa.

But back here in Orlando, group members seem to feel differently. “To be honest, he’s the best I’ve ever seen at doing that job,” Riley says. “Everybody thinks that they can do it. But it’s really not easy at all.”

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