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Getting to know you, and you and you and you

Group encourages networking among Mayfair Road businesses

March 27, 2012

A podiatrist and a foot surgeon have practices within blocks of each other on Mayfair Road, but until recently they never knew each other. The lack of familiarity likely resulted in many lost referrals over the years.

Similarly, numerous accountants, lawyers and doctors - each with their own specialty - operate businesses in the Mayfair Road corridor without meeting or benefitting from their neighbors' expertise.

Those missed connections are not unusual, said Christiaan Snedeker, branch manager of U.S. Bank at the corner of Mayfair Road and North Avenue. In an effort to make the corridor less of a faceless commercial district, he formed Mayfair Professional Network a year ago.

"The goals are connecting, learning and keeping dollars more localized on Mayfair Road," he said.

The group is open to owners or representatives of businesses along Mayfair Road between Bluemound Road and Capitol Drive and a few blocks off the main road.

"It's a comfortable atmosphere for people to get to know each other and build relationships," he said.

Professionals - at this point just more than 20 - gather monthly over the lunch hour. Every other month they network while patronizing one of the corridor's many restaurants. Other meetings take place in a conference room at U.S. Bank and feature a speaker on topics ranging from the latest in information technology services to tips for leasing space in the area.

"Most of these people don't own building, so they need to know whether they're getting a good deal in this market," Snedeker said.

Alderman Jeff Roznowski, whose district includes part of Mayfair Road, joined the group as a liaison between the city and business stakeholders.

"I find out what's going on in the respective businesses, and they ask me for updates on projects such as Mayfair Road construction, whether the Menomonee River Parkway is ever going to be resurfaced and the status of the Mayfair Collection development for the Burleigh Triangle."

Snedeker sees the group getting more diverse, with caterers and body therapists joining, but he sees room for plenty more professionals. He would like to have a specialist from every medical area, from optometry to urology, as well as financial and legal experts from every niche in their fields.

"They should be referring clients to each other," he said. "Why send someone out to Cudahy or downtown Milwaukee when we have it here?"

Snedeker calls himself "the idea guy," with a goal of taking on one large project per year. Now that he's got a program for the business owners, he's turned his focus to the thousands of employees working in the corridor.

This week, the Mayfair Exchange launches with an expo at Dave & Buster's. Think of the program as a new way to provide incentives to employees while driving foot traffic to the businesses along Mayfair Road.

Restaurants, gyms, shops and services can set a special Mayfair Road employee discount, giveaway or other promotion and publicize it during the expo, which Snedeker hopes will become a quarterly event.

"They will get ongoing benefits with local businesses," he said. "We need to start making this a community."

Five to 10 business managers have come together to organize the kickoff.

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