LIVINGSTON, NJ - While many people are asleep or just getting up to start their days, others are already out and networking in the early morning hours. Others fit networking into their lunch or dinner schedules. Regardless as to when and where they network, one thing remains the same for all involved—they are looking to meet professionals, develop relationships, share referrals, and grow their businesses.

There are a number of networking groups that meet in Livingston and the surrounding areas. To date, The Alternative Press of Livingston has been invited to attend a few networking groups including LeTip, JBN, B.O.N.D. and PowerNet. TAP Livingston is always looking to visit other groups and welcomes all invitations.

The Livingston Chapter of LeTip, an international group that was established in 1978, holds a breakfast meeting every Wednesday at 7 to 8:30 a.m. at Eppes Essen, which is located at 105 East Mount Pleasant Ave. in Livingston. Like most networking groups, the goal of this group is to help members expand their businesses through qualified referrals. LeTip offers members opportunities to showcase their businesses, make presentations about what they do, and encourages members to visit one-another’s businesses so as to learn as much as possible to be able to promote each other's services in the field. Members also share success stories and goals and objectives for growing and improving their businesses.

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Membership is limited to one person per profession and according to the corporate website, “You 'own' your category when you join LeTip and your competition is excluded from your chapter.” Members must also be working full-time in their category. They also have to pay dues and fees, attend meetings, and pass on at least one qualified referral every week. In addition, members are also required to sponsor one new member within their first membership year.

Members are encouraged to invite people to meetings and those prospective members are invited to participate in two complimentary breakfast meetings in order to determine if they want to join. To learn more, contact LeTip here.

LeTip member Renee Radcliffe-Wasserman who owns The Self Healing Zone said, “I love so many things about networking. I love to create relationships. I also love to create value in small businesses by protecting economies of small businesses, which are the real backbone. I love forming connections and learning what other people do and how I can utilize their services and how they can use mine. With LeTip you have a small army at your disposal. You also see each other all the time at meetings and get to watch each other’s businesses grow. It is a win-win.”

“LeTip is a great opportunity for me to really get to know about other people’s businesses intimately, and vice versa so we can effectively bring qualified leads to each other,” said Jeff Wolfson, owner of Affairs to Remember Photography in Livingston. LeTip is so much more than just a business meeting—it is also way to get to know one another on a personal level. There is so much camaraderie.”

“Joining LeTip is the best decision I have ever made,” said Rema Rose Perry, owner of Rose’s Professional Cleaning Service. “The people in the group are so down to earth—they are just wonderful people. I am so happy there. “

The Livingston Chapter of PowerNet  holds breakfast meetings every other Friday, from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. at Eppes Essen. This group, which was started by local community members, also seeks to foster professional and business relationships among members, facilitate the exchange of business referrals and help members develop professionally and expand their businesses. Some members have been with the group for many of its twelve years in existence and many members of the group also socialize together.

At each meeting, members are invited to speak about their businesses, describe preferred types of referrals and sometimes, they give reports on other member’s businesses after they have spent some time with them. The group also invites outside speakers to address the group.

Membership is restricted to one person per profession and members must attend meetings regularly, and cannot miss more than one meeting per quarter or two consecutive meetings without a valid reason. Members pay quarterly breakfast and membership due with no annual, national, or international fees. In addition, every member must generate at least one valid lead or reference for at least one other member of the group within a calendar year.

PowerNet is always looking to grow and encourages members to invite guests to meetings and. To learn more, contact PowerNet here.

Treasurer of the PowerNet, Steven B. Shaiman, CPA said, “I like the camaraderie and friendships that we have; we are not just a business group, we are a friendly group.”

Mike Pane, an independent representative for Aflack said, “I joined PowerNet six months ago and it is the first networking group that I have joined. I like that we meet every two weeks, rather than every week and that there isn’t a large financial commitment. I am already starting to create a return on my investment, which is great because sometimes it can really take a long time to do that through networking. The people are really friendly, warm and receptive and have a real desire to know your business and offer referrals. There is a lot of reciprocation and a beneficial opportunity for growth here.”

Henry ‘Hank’ M. Aaron of Aaron Business Solutions said, “I like this group because I use the members as an informal board of directors. I regularly see my insurance broker, and other people whose services I use and we have all gotten to know one another well.”

President of the group, John Mitrano, who works at Tech Designo, in West Orange said, “I enjoy the close relationships and professionalism in the group. Many members have known each other easily for five or more years.”

The Livingston Chapter of the Business Owners Networking and Development (B.O.N.D) group meets every second Tuesday at 8 a.m., at Eppes Essen. Members must be business owners who are then organized by specific business categories, with one member representing each.  There may also be subgroups according to specialties in a category, such as Insurance or Law, where members work in different areas. Like PowerNet, this group was started locally.

Referrals are not required but members are encouraged to make referrals and to meet with each other outside on meetings. Dues are also required.

Prospective members are invited to attend two meetings as a guest before deciding whether to join or not. To learn more, contact bondnetworking@gmail.com.

Mike Andreaggi, owner of Livingston-based First Class Movers, Inc. said, “I am a member of BNI and B.O.N.D. I like the local flavor of the people in the Livingston area at B.O.N.D. It is like trying to do business with my neighbors who are all trying to grow their businesses in a local community. Networking through BNI has helped a lot too. In both groups, I enjoy that we are building relationships while getting to know each other’s businesses better.”

Past President and current Membership Chairman, Dan Yanofski, of Livingston-based Elite Realtors of New Jersey, said, “B.O.N.D. is unique because it is limited to business owners and one category per business. It is more than just a networking group; we also run ideas past each other regarding different business situations. It is a networking group and also a support group for business owners.”

The Livingston Chapter of the Jewish Business Networking Group (JBN) meets once a month from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Glatt Kosher Fumio Grill and Sushi, which is located at 21 E Northfield Road in Livingston. JBN is a place for Jewish people to connect for networking and career growth. Members make strategic business connections and contacts.

Prior to exchanging cards, members do a quick ice-breaking exercise, or listen to a speaker. Members are also given time to explain what they do and to describe the types of referrals they are seeking.

Attendees do not have to be invited by a member to attend. In addition, unlike many other networking groups, membership is not limited by profession. People can become members and pay a yearly fee, or pay as they go for meetings and meals. To learn more, contact: info@JBusinessNetwork.net.

Certified Professional Organizer, Ellen Palestine, of Livingston-based Finally Organized said, “I haven’t missed one meeting in three years. I like the group because people really connect with one another and follow through.”

“I have been to a few different networking groups, but I really enjoy this particular group,” said Ben D. Manevitz of the Manevitz Law Firm in Clifton. “I have met nice people, made worthwhile relationships and found clients through this group. In addition, I have gained insights that have added to my perspective.”

Energy Consultant, Spencer Bernstein of Fairfield-based Premier Energy Auctions, recently attended JBN for the first time and said that he really liked the meeting and was impressed with how everyone wanted to help each other and give referrals, rather than just build their own businesses.
 

Note from the Author:

If you are looking to expand your business locally, joining a networking group is one way to do so. As you have just read, there are many different types of groups to choose from. Ask around and find a friend who attends a group to invite you or contact a group via its website for information. Do your research and visit a few groups before deciding which one or ones are right for you.

If you find a group you like that was not profiled here, please let us know. If you would like TAP-Livingston to visit your networking group, call (201) 618-7444 or write to jschatell@thealternativepress.com.

Please visit and ‘Like’ the TAP Livingston Facebook photo album page to see photos of some members of the above mentioned networking groups.

-       Jackie Schatell