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Networking & Trade Groups
These articles were published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on January 6, 1999. All rights reserved.
The real value of a trade association, most agree,
is that being a member gives you the right to call up another member
and "pick their brain," so to speak. The president of Business
Marketing Association (BMA), Tom Lento, says that the other
members "can really help you out when you are facing a problem."
A graduate of Boston College (Class of 1965) with a PhD in English
from the University of Iowa, Lento is manager of market communications
at Sarnoff Corporation.
"Even when I was talking to competitors, says Lento, "if I
ever had a question, I never got anything but help, never an `it’s
"BMA is a great place to learn practical skills, anything from
how to write a better direct mail letter to designing a web site,"
says Jack E. Appleman, director of communications for the Tribus
Companies, an insurance brokerage firm, based in Wayne and with an
office in Jamesburg (E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org). He earned his CBC (Certified
Business Communicator) designation through the organization’s national
"I have used vendors or consultants whom I have met through BMA.
When you get involved in a group, the value of networking comes when
somebody develops a level of trust. At BMA that happens very fast
because of the type of people who are active members, always willing
to help and offer suggestions."
"It’s been an extraordinary experience, says Terrence Pranses.
"Each meeting has a speaker with a point of view and a wealth
of experience. Each meeting brings up new ideas. An alumnus of Wharton,
Class of 1972, Pranses has an MBA from Ohio State and did corporate
work (for such firms as RCA) and agency work (for Young & Rubicam)
and in 1993 founded his Hoboken-based firm, Pranses Research Services.
He does such custom market research as focus groups, in-depth interviewing,
and telephone survey work.
"BMA has also become a support group in a business-positive sense,"
says Pranses. "Beyond the networking, there is a real camaraderie,
and people who are active and take on board functions are a phenomenal
resource for referrals, for help on projects, and for finding capable
people on a project-need basis.
He says his biggest single contact last year came from a BMA member.
"I can only say incredible things about BMA’s impact on my bottom
line. The quantity of leads is not that huge, but the quality is enormous.
The caliber of the interaction is a marvelous prescreening process.
The next BMA meeting is on Tuesday, January 12, at 5:30 p.m. at the
Somerset Doubletree. For information call 800-664-4BMA or 732-940-0545;
fax, 732-369-3809. Home page: http://www.bma-nj.com. Meetings
are on second Tuesdays and cost $25. Dues are $215 to $225 per year.
Pranses echoes what most people believe is one of the chief values
of a trade association: "Many of us have learned different things
form the school of hard knocks. We trade a lot of war stories and
realize we are not the only ones out there." Needless to say,
trade associations are also a great place to network for a new and
by Sol Libes
I joined my first Computer User Group in 1969, 30 years
ago. I had decided to build a small digital computer at home. It was
an unheard of idea. I was an engineer and intrigued by the inner workings
of a digital computer.
Computers were thought of as giant electronic brains located in specially
constructed air conditioned rooms sealed off from access by all but
a few all-knowing engineers. How quickly times have changed. Almost
everyone I know today has a personal computer at home and can’t imagine
getting their everyday work done without it.
When I joined the Amateur Computer Society it was already four years
old and had almost 200 members. Several had working computers at home.
The computers were primitive. We were hobbyists intrigued by their
inner workings rather than using them as tools to accomplish tasks.
That too has changed.
I joined the group, the only such group in the world, because I needed
help in my intended construction project. Where could I find parts,
plans, books, and so on?
Today, I can buy a personal computer in any one of more than a dozen
stores in the area. Computers have gotten incredibly easier to use
to do productive work. However, personal computers are still rapidly
evolving. Many of my friends have bought their second and third systems,
each with new and more powerful features. But we all agree that personal
computers are still not that easy to use. They are still complex mysteries
with frequent problems.
Personal computer hardware and software vendors are trying to help
with the situation. However, they are limited in what they can do.
To deal with the situation many personal computer users have taken
the initiative and created "User Groups," or "UGs."
(Computer users love acronyms.) The UGs are comprised of people using
the same computers — PCs, Macintoshs, Linux systems, etc.
These UGs are, in essence, mutual help organizations, where people
gather to get help and help others, with their personal computer problems
and how to use them more effectively. The UGs are non-profit organizations
with no manufacturer affiliations. Hence, their members voice strong
and independent views that frequently run contrary to the manufacturer’s
There are a large number of personal computer UGs in our area, and
they vary in size from a few dozen to several hundred members. All
provide a way for members to gather and exchange information and help
one another. They also provide other services to their members; some
provide more services than others.
is generally open to anyone, and attendance is free. The meeting will
usually begin with announcements of events, special purchase deals,
etc., and this will usually be followed by a "random access session"
where people ask questions and get answers. Lastly there will be a
speaker for the evening. The speaker may be a vendor presenting some
new application software or a club member discussing how to do something
(e.g. create a web page). Often, there are door prizes and drawings
for products donated by vendors and members. Typically, one must be
a member to participate in drawings.
such as reviews of new products, how-to articles, current issues,
etc. Many of these newsletters can also be viewed on UG internet web
These pages publicize the group’s activities and usually provide information
that anyone can access. Many will also have their newsletters on their
web sites for people to read.
catering to special interests. These are "Special Interest Groups",
referred to as "SIGs." For example, many UGs have SIGs for
people using personal computers for genealogy, investing, internet,
etc. The SIGs may meet on different days than the regular monthly
meeting, or on the same day as the regular monthly meeting (typically
at an earlier time).
which members can copy non-copyrighted software. Although this used
to be a popular service of UGs, its importance has decreased with
the emergence of software that can be downloaded from the World Wide
help with specific applications such as a spreadsheet, database, or
word processor. These people are usually listed in the UG’s newsletter.
with computer stores that will grant discounts to UG members when
they show their UG membership cards. Frequently vendors will offer
substantial discounts on products when purchased as part of a UG group
Below is a list of personal computer user groups in Mercer County
and the surrounding areas.
DeGood and Dennis Mancl, co-chairs. Box 1324, Princeton 08542, 609-924-8704.
Meetings are free and open to the public. Refreshments are served.
Newsletter: monthly. Meetings: Third Thursdays at Sarnoff Corporation,
October to May.
president. Stanhope Hall, Princeton University, Princeton 08544, 609-258-5730;
fax, 609-258-1301; hotline, 609-252-1163. Dues: $30. Systems: Apple
Monthly newsletter. Meetings: second Tuesdays at 7:15 p.m. in Jadwin
Hall, A-10, Princeton University. A "how and why" SIG (all
general Q&A) begins at 6 p.m.
president & newsletter editor, Box 291, Rocky Hill, 08553, 908-218-0778;
fax, 908-231-8996. Systems: IBM-PCs and compatibles. Dues: $25. E-mail:
Monthly newsletter. Meetings: Second Mondays at 7 p.m. at Mercer County
Library, main branch, East Darrah Lane and Route 1.
609-587-8334. Dave Ciotti. Systems: Apple II. E-mail: email@example.com.
Meetings: second Fridays at 7:30 p.m.
Meeting: typically second Thursdays at 10 a.m., in the Princeton Jewish
Center, 435 Nassau Street, September to June. The group caters to
seniors 55 years of age and older.
Contact: Art Kleineman firstname.lastname@example.org. Meetings: Monthly, during
the day at Ewing Senior Center, 320 Hollowbrook Drive, Ewing.
Meetings: Held fourth Fridays at 7:30 p.m. in Room 156 of Armstrong
Hall, College of New Jersey, Ewing.
Linux, Atari, CP/M and compatibles. Web page: http://www.tcf-nj.org.
Annual event (May 1-2) is the oldest and largest show for personal
computer users; it features talks, forums, and user group meetings,
plus more than 400 indoor exhibitor spaces and more than 1,000 outdoor
flea market spaces. The computer festival has been moved from Mercer
Community College to the New Jersey Convention Center in Edison.
PC, Macintosh, and Linux. Web page: http://www.acgnj.org.
Monthly newsletter. Meetings: several each month at various locations
in New Jersey. Has a large number of SIGs. Bulletin Board System and
members provide support for certain applications.
Macintosh and compatibles. Web page: http://www.bcug.com. Monthly
newsletter. Meetings: third Fridays at 7 p.m. at Brookdale Community
College (Forum 103), Lincroft, 732-229-2959. Has a large number of
SIGs that meet on dates other than the main meeting, plus a software
library, BBS Discussion Board, auctions of software and books received
by the club for review, listings of "For Sale" and "Wanted"
items, and members who provide application support.
and compatibles. Contact phone: 215-842-9604. Web page: http://www.pacsnet.org/.
Monthly newsletter. Meetings: third Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
at Upper Moreland Middle School, 4000 Orangeman’s Road, Hatboro, Pennsylvania.
SIGs: How-To SIG (PC), Internet, IBM, MAC, and Microsoft Windows,
The group also has a bulletin board system and literature library.
Web page: http://pluto.njcc.com/~jda-ir/lug/index.html.
Monthly newsletter. Meetings: first Sundays at 2 p.m. at Bristol Township
Senior Center, 2501 Bath Road, Bristol. SIGs: Genealogy, Internet,
and Office Software.
down in 1975, and simultaneously Sol Libes founded the Amateur Computer
Group of New Jersey http://www.acgnj.org and served as president for
six years. The ACGNJ is the oldest personal computer UG in the world.
The following year, he co-founded the Trenton Computer Festival (TCF)
TCF is the oldest, and largest show for Personal Computer users in
the world. Libes is retired from teaching electrical engineering and
computer programming at College of New Jersey; he has had 16 books
published and numerous articles. He can be reached at E-mail: email@example.com
Go to the Business Directory and search on trade groups to get complete listings of all the trade groups.
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