Teaneck—Cedar Lane’s Garden State Jewelers was the place to be for the latest networking event of the Jewish Business Network (JBN). In an intimate setting with a small electric fireplace illuminating beautiful jewelry, a small group of strangers mingled and exchanged introductions and business cards while enjoying light refreshments. The atmosphere was both casual and focused, with participants who are clearly serious, established professionals who stop by to network.
“I started JBN four or five years ago because I had been searching for places to network within the Jewish community, and there was no other organization dedicated exclusively to networking,” said founder Josh Dill. “Only in NYC were there such organizations, but their events, while excellent, were filled with younger people, often singles mingling socially as well. I founded JBN to create a tool for established professionals looking for one thing: A shortcut to getting clients.”
Director of Special Events Debbie Berowitz greets attendees at the door and then invites them to circulate. “This is one of our smaller events,” she said. “We try to have them at different times of the day to make it convenient for everyone, some more structured than others. We have regular lunch meetings, breakfast events, cocktail hours, even an annual business expo to help people develop and grow their connections.” JBN also offers expert speakers presenting on such topics as social media optimization, use of LinkedIn, etc. Their website, www.jbusinessnetwork.net, allows members to create a business profile and pair up for mutually beneficial relationships.
With over 1,300 members, concentrated mostly in the tri-state area, JBN is a “turn-key” organization; like a franchise, anyone can start a chapter, with the central office providing support, materials, and direction. Started in Bergen County and still concentrated here, other territories that have chapters include Los Angeles, Baltimore, and Tel Aviv. “This provides a chance to meet like-minded quality people. There are a lot of great networking opportunities out there, other not specifically Jewish organizations, and our members are often members of those as well,” said Dill. “But they view JBN as another valuable tool in their toolbox.”
Members come from a wide variety of professions and businesses including the financial, insurance, and accounting fields, with representatives from law, marketing, public relations, architecture, geriatrics/assisted living, web design, IT consulting, even personal wardrobe stylists and home/office organizers. The JBN does not limit who can join or how many from each field can participate, and at some of the more structured meetings, Berowitz, who is the former executive director of the Fair Lawn Chamber of Commerce, collects business cards from attendees and scans them to an email she sends everyone. “We do what we can to improve the experience and the outcome,” said Berowitz, “including holding some meetings only for women. There’s a different dynamic at these meetings, and some women prefer to only attend those.”
JBN attracts all stripes of Jews at their events, which makes for a broader interaction opportunity. Their website, which lists the many upcoming events (three or four are held monthly in Bergen County with frequent Manhattan and other events), indicates which are kosher. Specifically designed for the Jewish community, JBN is open to everyone and seeks to feature local Jewish-owned businesses by using their sites as venues. “We welcome local businesses for a mutually beneficial relationship if they are interested,” said Dill, who grew up in Tenafly. “We work closely with Garden State Jewelers (441 Cedar Lane, in Teaneck’s central shopping district) and others, because it works for everyone,” he added. Indeed, Garden State proprietors Jonah and Ryan Schwartz are active members of the JBN and regularly host the “Cocktails and Carats: After Hours Biz Card Exchange” held that evening.
“That’s what we’re about,” said Dill, “Jews helping each other.”
By Lisa Matkowsky