There’s nothing like shaking a person’s hand and meeting him face to face, says Syed Safdar, owner of Safdar CPA. That’s why he is offering a business card exchange at his office at 1450 Parkside Avenue, Ewing, on Tuesday, September 10, from 5 to 6 p.m. He plans to repeat the networking on the second Tuesdays of subsequent months. Call 609-882-3700.

While Safdar acknowledges the perks of using of social media, he says that nothing can replace the value of speaking to someone in person. Safdar does not have an account on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or other platforms. On the other hand, Safdar has experimented with social media and sees a value in using it. He recommends that you use them in addition to personal networking, not as a replacement.

Personal networking is also specific to your geographical location, and Safdar believes there is great potential for business in Ewing. Safdar has lived in Ewing for 22 years with his wife and three children. He has seen many changes over time, from the days following the closure of General Motors to the pre-planning stage of the proposed transit village on that very same site, the expansion of the Trenton-Mercer Airport, and the new companies that have moved into Princeton South Corporate Center. He is enthusiastic about Ewing becoming an Einstein’s Alley town.

“It’s good for business,” he said. “High tech is an efficient way of doing business, and the way to go. Ewing has very good prospects. As the economy improves, businesses have more confidence to invest and expand.”

The College of New Jersey is another pillar of the Ewing business community. Safdar cites a 2011 survey of the nation’s most economically vibrant college towns. Ewing ranked eighth among 20. The criteria were per capita income, high-tech concentration, innovation, number of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher, the percentage of the workforce in the creative class, and affordability of housing.

Safdar says that the township has been helpful to him from the time he started his practice to this day. However, he has learned from his networking groups that some new business owners don’t know whom to call when setting up shop in the municipality.

One possible solution, suggests Safdar, would be a township hotline for business owners, with an assigned staff member to help them navigate through the process of opening a business in Ewing. One area where new owners have said they could use help is knowing what permits are needed and the process for obtaining them.

Originally from Pakistan, Safdar says he owes his work ethic to his mother, who was a full-time mom, and his father, who was an accountant for the military. They taught him to “work hard and be nice.”

Education is high among Safdar’s values. He was the valedictorian of his graduating class from Forman Christian College in Lahore, Pakistan, in 1976. There he earned his bachelor’s degree in science focusing on physics, chemistry, and statistics. After graduating, his sister convinced him to move to England, where she was living. He studied public accounting in London and earned his credentials from the Institute of Chartered Accountancy in England and Wales in 1983. In that same year, he moved to the United States where he became a CPA. He started his own accounting practice in 1986.

In addition to the Tuesday networking meetings, his firm also offers free sessions on using QuickBooks, the first Tuesday of the month at 5 p.m. His staff includes two professional accountants, interns from the College of New Jersey, and his wife, Rafia, who works in marketing.

Safdar’s advice to new business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs is simple but not necessarily easy: “Be prepared to work hard, work long hours, and develop good people skills.” Safdar urges people who are new to networking to “be patient. It takes time to get results.”

If you attend the networking session on September 10, don’t expect Safdar to tell you how to get rich quick. On the other hand, you might rub elbows with an attendee who has a different perspective and is eager to share his own ideas. As Safdar says, “You never can tell who you might meet.”

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