About 10 years ago a group of Route 1 business people got tired of the rules of a BNI group and left in a mass exodus to found the Capital Networking Group. The group has met regularly ever since, until a decline in membership left it in a crisis. Now the CNG’s new president, a computer expert, has given it a much needed reboot.
The Capital Networking Group meets Tuesdays at 7 a.m. at the Princeton United Methodist Church at 7 Vandeventer Avenue. Its next meeting is Tuesday, May 10, when the speaker will be Harold A. “Chip” Jerry III, a lawyer and longtime member of the group. For more information, visit www.capitalgroupnj.org.
Bill Uhl, president of CNG, said that for the past 10 years meetings have consisted of breakfast, networking, and mingling followed by introductions: everyone got a chance to make a short elevator pitch. Lastly, there were presentations by a group member. For example, when it was Uhl’s turn to present, he could give his fellow businesspeople tips on buying new computers. A lawyer member of the group would discuss legal tips for business owners.
That worked well until a few key members left, and the membership shrank. One of the members who was good at bringing in new people left for an extended trip to the Philippines. The reduction in numbers meant that a smaller roster of speakers was giving presentations over and over again.
“It got a little bit frustrating hearing the same information from the same people,” Uhl said. “Every three months or so we were up to give another presentation.”
It was clear that something had to change, so Uhl has completely reorganized Capital Networking Group. For the past several weeks, instead of the members giving presentations, they have had guest speakers. The first guest speaker, wealth advisor Guy McPhail, appeared in March, and Uhl invited former members to return to see the new and improved group. Though it’s too early to tell if the revival will stick, Uhl was encouraged by the first session. “We had a good time and a good turnout,” Uhl said. “He was very entertaining.”
Uhl hopes that more guest speakers will pull in more members, and lead to a general rebuilding of the Capital Networking Group.
Uhl said the group has helped him make contacts for his own business, Greenlight Networks, a small computer networking shop based on Broad Street in Hopewell Borough. “I focus on small businesses that do not have the resources to hire their own in-house talent so that they’re basically forced to outsource it or muddle through on their own,” Uhl said. Uhl grew up in Princeton. His father was an architect who was the “U” in the firm CUH2A.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Uhl studied architecture at Carnegie Melon and worked in the architecture field for eight years. While working at CUH2A, he was put in charge of the architecture department’s computer systems — not because he had formal education in computers, but simply because he had a knack for it. When the company went public in the 1990s, Uhl jumped ship and made his career in computers instead of architecture.
“At the time it seemed like the architecture field was going to be a very difficult profession to try to make a living in,” he said. “I didn’t really look back.” Uhl worked for Web Services in West Windsor for 10 years before leaving in 2005 to start his own company. “We had a difference of opinion,” he said. Initially he ran Greenlight Networks out of his home before renting space to hold servers and later a small office.
Uhl said networking has helped him keep connected with other business people in the area. “I personally have found the Capital Networking Group to be a very rewarding organization to be a part of. It’s helped me build a number of new relationships and gain a number of fruitful customers. Generally most people there feel it’s worth taking the time and effort to get extra business referrals as opposed to some of the larger ones, where you might as well just take another number. This is about local personal connections.”