Beyond the Networking Meeting, What I Learned

Beyond the Networking Meeting

Beyond the Networking Meeting

Most people don’t like networking. They believe it takes too much time and is basically a distraction from the “real work” that needs to be done.

You could say that about a plethora of things, couldn’t you? There’s a lot of “noise and pomp” everywhere.

Real value has to be sought out

I have always worked overtime to focus on the essentials and distill value from the time I invest. Becoming a member in the Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey (CCSNJ) is no exception. But meeting serious business people isn’t all there is to a networking event with CCSNJ.

CCNJ’s Rutgers Business Outlook at the Crown Plaza in Cherry Hill, NJ was structured to provide essential learning in four major areas that would be of interest to any business in Southern New Jersey.

I’ll summarize them here

Joel L. Naroff, founder at Naroff Economic Advisors Inc. spoke on the economy. He gave the current economy and the six-month forecast a B+. Naroff said that growing your business in this climate is possible but you have to be strategic. Growing your business is not like it used to be. The challenge today is demand is high and there aren’t enough workers.

Denise V. Monahan, Administrative Vice President at M&T Bank represented the banking sector and her grade for the current business climate and the six-month forecast is a B. Monahan said that banking has become more competitive. Mergers are on the rise and the days of banker’s hours are gone. She described the high demand for workers as a war on talent. Call it a demand, opportunity or war; the fact is the jobs are there for the right people.

Michael Munoz, Market President at AmeriHelth New Jersey agreed with his esteemed panelists on the business economy and the six-month forecast. He was optimistic on the trends in health care and the climate of such in Southern New Jersey. Munoz advised that a shift should take place—if it hasn’t already begun, from business-to-business to business to consumer. After all who really is the customer?

James Wood, President and CEO of Meet AC agreed with a B grade for the current economy but thought the six-month forecast should be better. He said that the tourism industry is the last to feel a downturn and last to come out of it due to the typical long-term planning for events and conventions and the cutback in this area after sensing a slow down. Wood said that Atlantic City lost thousands of workers when four casinos closed and they won’t be coming back.

He sees sports betting in Atlantic City as an amenity not an anchor. He further observes that people continue to be bullish. But, Atlantic City will remain a regional attraction and struggle for national destination status due to limits in transportation. Philadelphia is just too far for visitors to travel for a stay in Atlantic City.    

Three of the four panelists mentioned the high demand and fewer workers. That’s a pointer for business owners. Incidentally, Pete Ciarrocchi said something similar at CCSNJ’s Good Morning South Jersey Series two weeks ago. The number one issue for us at Chickie’s and Pete’s is keeping staff, this is most difficult.

If you are serious about growth, progress and improvement—and I believe most people are, you simply cannot ignore the knowledge provided in such a compressed event.

In his book The Beginning of Infinity, physicist and author, David Deutsch wrote that all failures and all evils are due to insufficient knowledge. Problems persist but we must keep improving and growing in the knowledge that helps us uncover and eliminate errors.

I believe we have a responsibility to pursue knowledge and create improvement. Here’s how to make your networking events more productive.

  • Stop networking. The effort of making a good first impression is overrated. As Bob Newhart would say, stop it! Have fun just being yourself. Relax and enjoy a real conversation. That’s what is most wanted today, authentic, genuine people having sincere conversations and building relationships.
  • Learn something. If you are really listening, people will share their problems and what solutions they are looking for—solutions that you could provide! We blame the networking event for being a waste of time when it is completely in our control whether networking is a waste of time. Don’t spend your time. Invest your time.
  • Help. Be a peer and offer value. Give first. It’s noble to help others to improve. Remember, networking is a process not an event.

Brian Braudis is president of The Braudis Group, a management consultancy offering training seminars, workshops and coaching and delivering reduced turnover, increased productivity and less conflict.


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