‘It’s better to give than to receive, but what goes around comes around.”
This mixed metaphor is the motto of Gotham Networking, the newest referral marketing group to form in the Princeton area.
Gotham City Networking is an 11-year-old organization founded in New York City by attorneys Fred Klein and Nancy Schess, with the intent “to bring together service-oriented professionals in complementary fields to share not only contacts, but also ideas and resources,” says Joshua Zinder, a member of the Gotham Green Chapter and an architect based at 20 Nassau Street.
But Gotham is more than just a place to find business opportunities, he adds. “It is a family.” Zinder has been a member of a New York City-based chapter for about a year and half and is now working to open the organization’s first New Jersey chapter in Princeton. The Princeton group’s third meeting will be Friday, December 19, at 12:30 p.m. at Mediterra Restaurant, 29 Hulfish Street. Cost: $30. For more information E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 609-924-5004.
Zinder first heard about Gotham City Networking through his sister, Susan Zinder, an attorney with Kingsbrook Medical Center in Brooklyn. “She had joined a group a couple of years before and she kept telling me how great it was, that it was more than just your average networking group,” he says.
Zinder attended his first meeting shortly after forming his own company in 2006. He tried out several of the organization’s 40 chapters before becoming a member of Gotham Green, a chapter designed for people interested in the green business sector.
Zinder obtained his bachelor’s in architecture from Syracuse in 1991 and his master’s from Columbia in 1992. He is LEED certified and emphasizes green design in most of his architectural projects.
“Sometimes a client comes to me wanting to obtain LEED certification, others have less interest, but even if a client doesn’t specifically discuss the matter, I feel that it is part of my responsibility to be sensitive to the environment in everything we do here,” says Zinder. He has worked “on every type of architectural project from public housing to high end residential buildings and from prisons to museums,” he says. He and his three employees not only handle building design and project management but also work on other types of projects as well, such as furniture and appliance design.
Community spirit. What attracted Zinder to Gotham was its “spirit of community,” he says. “Soon after I joined the group my wife and I found out that my son needed a learning assessment. We were confused by everything we were being told and we didn’t know where to turn. I put out an E-mail on the Gotham site and I got 30 or 40 responses back.
“Each of those people, most of whom didn’t personally know me, took the time to help us. That’s why we talk about a tribe or community in Gotham.”
Gotham currently has over 600 members. It originated in New York City, and the majority of its chapters are located there, but there are also chapters in Florida, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, and another possible start-up in Arizona. The organization also has an “E-mail Chapter,” for members who cannot regularly attend monthly meetings.
When Zinder approached Gotham’s “Tribal Council” about opening a new branch in Princeton he received a lot of support, he says. The group’s first meeting, in early fall, attracted about 16 prospective members; subsequent meetings have attracted over two dozen potential members, he says.
Chapters for every interest. A prospect must attend two meetings before petitioning to join a Gotham chapter, explains Zinder. While many of the chapters allow only one person per profession, others are “open groups.” Many of the groups have a theme, such as the Syracuse Alumni group, the Real Estate Professionals chapter, a Working Moms group and the Lefties group for left-handed members.
As a new group, the Princeton chapter’s only “theme” is location, but because of Zinder’s interests he hopes the new chapter “will have green leanings.” He would also like to see the group grow large enough to split into two or more chapters in the Princeton area.
Requirements for membership. Unlike many lead-generating organizations, Gotham does not have a specific number of leads or referrals each member must turn in. “That’s what our motto is all about,” says Zinder. If a person is active in helping the other members to get leads, he or she will end up receiving them in return.
Yearly dues for the organization are $250, with an initial application fee of “about $200,” Zinder says. However, to encourage members to join the new Princeton group, applications fees will be waived for members joining in the first quarter of the year.
There are also no attendance requirements. However, each member is required to pay the monthly meeting fees ($30 per meeting) a full year in advance. “That’s our way of ensuring good attendance. It doesn’t make sense not to attend a meeting when you have already paid,” he adds.
Other benefits. Once a person becomes a member, he can also attend two meetings a year at each of the other chapters in the organization. “We call it ‘riding the circuit,’ and it gives members an opportunity to get to know people in all of the chapters,” explains Zinder.
Members can also participate in a book club, a blog, and a number of multi-chapter social events. There is also Fredslist, named for Gotham co-founder Fred Klein. “Fredslist is a really unique tool for members to find help,” says Zinder. Requests can range from personal, such as Zinder’s request for information regarding his son’s learning assessment, to job searches, to just general information.
“In the last five months I’ve seen: Someone looking for a bridge loan for a project in Bolivia. They got it; someone looking for a job in London for their daughter. They found it; and someone looking for a ribbon for an MRI machine. They found it,” says Zinder.