SLICE OF LIFE
Patcharee Pantoomano Pfirsch set up Bangkok's Networking Community (BNOW) - which has organised networking and social events for the last decade - to address issues that come with working and living in Bangkok for entrepreneurs from all walks of life.
At its inception, she said there were no groups catering to young and dynamic professionals. Over dinner one night, a few friends of hers thought they should start one for fun and Patcharee was appointed to get it off the ground - and the rest is history. BNOW was the first to bring speed-dating to Thailand in 2004.
In her capacity as chairwoman of BNOW, she said that the group is comprised of SME owners and dynamic professionals. Each year they survey the group for feedback on the kind of events they would like the team to organise. Finding experts to give talks on issues that interest members is probably the biggest challenge for her.
Through the years, the networking group has managed to help connect and land jobs for members. By running networking events that are structured, she said it's more efficient for businesses to make connections and grow.
They have also enjoyed a string of accomplishments, which Patcharee is very happy to talk about.
"At a speed-dating event we organised, we matched a couple who later got married and they now have two children.
"Annually, we fund raise and make a donation to a local charity. In the past, we've donated to the Goodwill Group Foundation and Camillian Home. Last year our Christmas party was held at Bistro 33 and we made a donation to the Soi Dog Foundation. Our goal for 2013 is to be a conduit that helps to connect and grow businesses as well as our own organisation."
So just how does BNOW stand out from the other networking groups in the city?
"Our group is unique. Bangkok Now is all about fun and friendly networking. We like to make it efficient for our attendees and have adopted dynamic networking styles for our events," said Patcharee."The Bangkok Business Connection luncheon [BBC], which is held every month and modelled on BNI [Business Networking International], is about the attendees. In a one-to-group format, everyone gets a chance to talk about who they are and the product and service they want to share with the group.
"While at our speed-networking events, everyone can connect with up to 40 people in one evening and these business connections can help them generate leads or partnerships for their business."
As for her thoughts on the Asean Economic Community and the important role networking will play in making the transition a smooth one for the business community, Patcharee said she is confident it can be used as a great forum to facilitate business leads and referrals.
She believes that the group, with its dynamic style of networking, has the potential to grow in such an environment. Executives are often pressed for time and the way they organise events maximises interaction in a minimal amount of time.
"We regularly welcome visitors from abroad to our events. It has been our dream to expand and bring our events to other Asian cities," she said.
Here Patcharee shares some of her most memorable events in the past 10 years.
The Wine and Art night came about because two of my friends, Niki Thongborisute (blonde hair in black jacket) and Keng Moroney have been supporting the children at Umphang school in Tak province. The headmaster wanted to build a new dormitory for the boys at the school. Together we worked with local artists and got sponsorship for the venue and wine. That evening, with the help of Shannon Kalayanamitr (black shorts and white shirt) and Richard Jackson as auctioneers, we raised 75,000 baht which went towards erecting a new building at Umphang.
In our family, we have two dogs. I consider them my four-legged children. Through the years, we’ve supported SCAD with donations and fundraising events. Unfortunately SCAD folded a year ago. Last year we got in touch with the Soi Dog Foundation and decided to organise BNOW’s Christmas party and donate part of the proceeds to this organisation. The group donated 10,000 baht.
BNOW, which originally stood for Bangkok Network of Women, has organised many social events ranging from speed-dating and Halloween parties to holistic retreats. Two years ago the group changed its name to Bangkok Now (bnow.org). Attendees encouraged the name change to avoid confusion, as men have been coming to BNOWevents from the start. Recently, the group has become more business focused. BNOWhas created an efficient way for executives to meet potential customers and suppliers via its speed-networking events. All the events we organise are special as we aspire to bring together the Bangkok community.
About the author
- Writer: Yvonne Bohwongprasert