Wednesday, June 13

New Age Retirement

Retirement is probably no longer the right word. It used to apply when, after a long lifetime in the harness, workers would finally step out of the traces and enjoy a few years of well-deserved rest before death. But now people retiring from 30-year careers are often age 55, with another three — or four, or more — decades of life expected. Last year over 30 million Americans collected Social Security benefits in some form.

The question is, what should folks be looking forward to? According to Lawrence-based consultant Ralph Copleman, “these wisdom-rich years hold more opportunity and are as valuable as any time in your life.” To help folks make the best use of this new, uncharted era, Copleman teaches the Mercer County Community College two-session course “Planning Your Retirement,” beginning on Wednesday, June 13, at 6 p.m. Cost: $50. Call 609-570-3311.

Neither Copleman nor his wife are yet retired, but both, at age 62, stand on the verge and are ardently sifting through the many options.

A native of Westfield who attended the Peddie School, Copleman holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Tufts (Class of 1967) and a master’s degree in communication from Boston University. Upon graduation, he dabbled. He tried more graduate school and, loathing it, became an accounts settler for two insurance companies. That work was hardly better. “This is truly the dark side of the insurance game,” he notes.

Returning to New Jersey, he worked for the Department of Social Services, and handled public relations for the United Way of Mercer County. In l979 he stepped out on his own as a management consultant. He has guided both individuals and companies in long range planning for 18 years. As part of his personal environmental commitment, he also acts as executive director of Sustainable Lawrence (www.sustainablelawrence.org.)

Probably the most daunting thing about retirement is that the path is unclear. After a lifetime of following a strict Puritan work ethic, working in a precise labor-and-reward system, employees are cut loose. Where are the guides? Where are the “shoulds?” Copleman insists that turning these decisions entirely over to you is exactly what makes the retirement years golden.

End of career. Today’s retirement dinners are haunted by a host of specters, which a surprising number of retirees take fearfully to heart. Many of these myths are based around the fact that, as a culture, we do not handle play well. We are suspect of its effect on adults of any age and we don’t even want children near it unless it is exquisitely organized.

From this has sprung the “Rot and Die” myth. A weekend or so may be O.K., but if the retiree spends much more time than that lying in the backyard hammock, eating chocolate, or strolling through Paris without a determination to see every painting and photograph every significant building, he will vegetate and die. According to Copleman, this is totally false. Play away, is his advice. He warns that the opposite is more dangerous. Jumping immediately into a new career or life project after retiring is like love on the rebound. You are getting busy in haste and may regret your choice soon afterward.

An offshoot of the “Rot and Die” is the Rolodex Meltdown myth. This claims that if the retiree wants to continue on in some aspect of his career, best get into the position immediately, while he is still warm in everyone’s address list and memory. While somewhat true, just think of all the business cohorts you don’t contact for months at a time who still remember you when you do call. Certainly a few months of settling and planning time will not banish you from their minds.

Finally comes the “Etched in Stone” myth. It warns that all decisions lead to lifelong highways of action with no exit ramps. This hasn’t been true in any other part of life. Why should it be true now? “The goal is to be adult enough to make calculated decisions, and young at heart enough to keep asking yourself new questions,” says Copleman. “And remember, the answers are written in ink — not stone.”

Good life search. Copleman asks his students to list five times when they were happy. Happiness, in most cases, entails doing something we are good at and from which we gain satisfaction. These two aspects are separate. He notes that many of us have things that we do remarkably well, but don’t necessarily enjoy. A veteran athlete may know sporting goods exhaustively and be very skilled at dealing with people. But if he hates the very idea of running a sports store, why force himself?

Copleman also asks his classes to examine their lists for a theme. If the five happy times involved performing before others, or perhaps unearthing discoveries for oneself alone, use this as a planning clue.

Also, consider and honestly examine your personal style. Do you get your energy from the rest or the world, or from within? How do you spend your free time. Garner these various assessments and then develop some options.

Obligations accounted. Copleman lists this consideration last, because it is, believe it or not, the least important. No successful entrepreneur ever launches a business by first listing all of his limitations. So the retiree should first list his desires, his opportunities, and the many, many fulfilling avenues he could take. Only then should he consider financial requirements, elderly parents and dependents, and clubs or various social obligations. These are accompanying challenges, not stone sidewalls to the retiree’s new life path.

But these obligations, while not necessarily a first consideration, are important. Copleman suggests that those about to retire “work out a long-term program with a financial planner or from whomever you get your financial wisdom.” Do the math on taking Social Security at age 62 versus 66, versus 70. How old will you be before these payment streams balance out?

Detailed budgets for the next 30 years, by the way, are rarely realistic. Markets crash, windfall profits occur unexpectedly. Life cannot be contained in a spreadsheet.

In the end, Copleman proclaims that the retired individual has more freedom than ever in his life. After a lifetime of work, it’s high time to live a little more like the lilies of the field. Quietly for a while, looking within and dusting off those old — or brand new — dreams. Inspired by your greater wisdom, you may be surprised at how well they launch.

— Bart Jackson

Thursday, June 14

Let Technology Help Your Business

Chris Eggert has two official titles at her daytime job at Besler Consulting: executive assistant and privacy officer. She also acts as the “Unofficial Microsoft Help Desk Expert.” Her unofficial duties are without limit. Session timed out? Failure to connect to printer? Weak wireless signal? Eggert helps everyone in the company solve their computer problems.

“I’m the guru,” she says. “When a co-worker needs my help, I can’t wait to get to get to their desk. I love the challenge.”

After finishing for the day at Besler, which has an office at 3 Independence way, Eggert teaches two nights a week at Mercer County Community College. She normally teaches a class that helps students prepare for the Microsoft Office certification test, and the college recently asked her to teach a one-session class called “Technology and Your Small Business.” It meets on Thursday, June 14, at 6:30 p.m. as part of a series of small business management courses. Cost: $40. For more information call 609-586-4800.

Eggert is a certified Microsoft Office specialist master instructor. The certification is the only one endorsed by Microsoft to verify a teacher’s knowledge of Office, the most popular desktop software from Washington to Warsaw. To obtain the certification Eggert had to pass exams for Word, Excel, Access, and PowerPoint at the expert level.

Although Eggert has taught at MCCC for 13 years, she appeared in the year book long before that. She earned an associate of applied science degree in secretarial science from the college, learning stenography and speed writing skills she uses to this day. Right out of college Eggert bolstered her credentials by taking and passing an exam to become a certified professional secretary.

Eggert started her own small business, Hamilton Business Support Services, in 1992. It was a secretarial company that provided clients with a virtual assistant. Clients contacted Eggert, who worked from home, and assigned her various tasks that could be completed without face-to-face contact.

While she was in college, Eggert learned to type on a typewriter in the decade before personal computers replaced the machines. She then taught herself how to use a computer and the software she needed to operate her new business. She felt that she grasped the concepts fairly well but wanted confirmation. She turned once again to Mercer, enrolling in a basic course.

Once the course ended, Eggert was proficient enough to become an assistant to several professors. Her next step was to teach her own class, so she approached the dean and offered a trial run. “Let me teach this one class,” she recalls saying. “I’ll do it for free. If I mess up, that will be it. But if I’m good at it, I want the job.” The dean hired her then and there, and she moved on from secretarial work to teaching.

Technology can be everything. “You need technology or your business is not going to work,” Eggert says. “Everything is done on the computer.” Understanding the role of the Internet, computers, communications systems, software options, and networking is vital for success.

Eggert says that a company that is knowledgeable about these technical areas will save time and energy and increase efficiency. “It would have been nice if I knew this stuff when I was starting my own business,” says Eggert.

Although she has embraced technology and learned to adapt to change, Eggert understands that technology can overwhelm the uninitiated, stifling progress. “Technology is great when it works,” Eggert says. “When it doesn’t, you’re paralyzed.”

Computer security is vital. Computer viruses are designed by tech-savvy folks with too much time on their hands. They enjoy the challenge of devising ways to wreak havoc. No small business owner wants to see his hard work compromised because of the specialized knowledge and wicked intentions of a select few.

The computer owner can create a secure system by understanding the systems that stand between him and the hacker. A firewall is a device that protects computers and computer networks from attack. Unwanted intrusion is prevented by restricting access, on isolating computers based on the levels set by the administrator. This can be done by using log-on screens with set passwords. Access can be authorized or denied to the entire computer or to specific applications.

Encryption is another way to protect a computer. It secures information by transforming it, making it unreadable to those who are not permitted to view it. Encryption ensures that information “floating” over a wireless network will not land in the hands of those trying to snatch it.

Webinars mean fewer business trips. Technology has helped Eggert distinguish herself in her profession and advance her career. She has gone from typing memos on a typewriter to organizing webinars — or live web conference.

Meetings and presentations can be conducted live over the Internet so that people in two or more locations can interact simultaneously. Employees can telecommute to work from home, replacing the interstate with a telecommunication link. A broadband connection can save the time and money that a business would have spent on travel.

Webcams, digital video cameras, and Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, enable web conferences to feature real-time video and audio feeds. The webinars can be one way or interactive between the presenter and the audience, allowing, for example, a group to view a PowerPoint presentation, which can be commented on as if the presenter were in the room.

The application can either be downloaded or based on the Internet, which requires a participant to visit a particular website to join the meeting. The service is sold by either a flat fee or on the basis of usage.

Like so many technology advances, setting up and learning how to host a webinar takes a little time. But it also took time — lots of time — for Eggert to make the move from a typewriter to a word processing program. For her, the transition was the beginning of a journey that has brought rich rewards. The same can be true for business owners and for those who are taking the step into the entrepreneurial life. Where technology is concerned, there is always a learning curve. But generally there is also a bump up in profits — and a freeing up of time, once the curve has been mastered.

— Adam Grybowski

Wednesday, June 20

Ethics On The Rise

Ethics are going global. Six years ago the United States responded to a hydra of corporate fraud scandals with a flurry of legislation and new watchdog techniques, which sent ripples around the world. The question is, can American business keep up with the trend it started a few years ago?

To delineate what is federal compliance and global compliance — as well as what is simply a good moral operating code, the Princeton Chamber hosts “The Convergence of Ethics and Law: What Corporate Managers Need to Know” on Wednesday, June 20, at 7:30 a.m. at the Nassau Club in Princeton. Cost: $30. Visit www.princetonchamber.org. Speaker Jeff Kaplan, partner in Kaplan & Walker at 100 Overlook Center, discusses the letter of the law and the various employee training tools that can make a more crime-free — and thrifty — operation.

Kaplan’s ethical expertise has led him to publish, defend, prosecute, investigate, and instruct on the subject. He attended Carleton College in Minnesota where he fell under the spell of a renowned Czech film director who encouraged his script writing ability. Though still smitten by the world of cinema when he graduated in l976 with a bachelor’s degree in history, Kaplan opted for the practical and obtained his law degree from Harvard University. Upon graduation he served in the special litigation group for Chadbourne & Parke in New York City.

Kaplan has published several compliance guidelines and ethical papers, including “Ethics Programs: The Role of the Board, A Global Study.” He also employs his writing abilities as editor of “Ethikos,” a 20-year old journal of business ethics. His script writing and cinemagraphic yearnings have led him to act as legal counsel for SAI-Compliance, which has developed a series of online ethical compliance videos. As an adjunct professor at NYU’s Stern School, Kaplan also teaches courses in ethics and law.

“Ethics violations, in the great majority, are not a matter of evil minds performing nefarious deeds,” says Kaplan. “Most people want to conduct their business decently.” So why all the scandals? First, he points out, 99 percent of a company’s employees may be honest, but it only takes one to run a scam and bring the firm tumbling down. The second real villain is neglect. People don’t pay scrupulous attention to conflicts of interest, discrimination, or environmentally harmful practices. For these and many other reasons, the crimes keep on occurring.

Wheel of crimes. Beyond just plain dipping an errant hand in the till, a crime that knows no season, unethical practices seem to ebb and flow through the business community with cyclical popularity. For the past five years corporations have been competing to attract and retain senior management talent. In response, the crime of backdating stock options became almost routine until recent crackdowns. By inaccurately setting an option’s purchase date to one where the stock was trading at a lower, the CEOs and other option holders reaped enormous profits on a very unlevel trading field.

Similarly, conflict of interest suits blossomed throughout the past decade as the size of boards of directors increased substantially. Vendors and department heads of all sorts found themselves forced to deal with the good old board member’s brother-in-law, rather than the best possible supplier.

Laxity causes ethical relapses. A recurrence of discrimination claims has shocked business watchdogs. Anti-discrimination claims multiplied a few years back, and then finally everybody thought they were in compliance. The trouble is, says Kaplan, managers and human resource people simply forgot and the violations have started popping up again. Insider trading, under the same cycle, caused enough high-profile trouble that everyone was on guard — for a while. It is now making at least a modest comeback.

Overwhelming security requirements swamp otherwise ethical managers. Unethical and illegal lapses in security are also on the rise, but here the issue is ignorance rather than laxity. Business owners cannot keep up with all the methods of invasion and necessary protection for individuals, clients, and the corporation as a whole.

Retaliation against whistleblowers is also on the rise, in part because it is one of the toughest business illegalities to prove.

Price fixing is sometimes tolerated, for now. Bid rigging and collusive price fixing, Kaplan notes wryly, involve no excuses. They are intentional, illegal, and even though laws get tougher, the government’s blind-eye stance has encouraged the frequency of these crimes to grow.

U.S. versus the world. Overall, America is sending out mixed messages on its ethical stance. Traditionally, the Securities and Exchange Commission has provided a trade control much envied by all other nations. Transgressions by Enron, Worldcom, and several other firms, seem to have been dealt with swiftly. This administration is boasting loud and long of the record $2 billion antitrust fine imposed on oil giant Baker and Hughes. However, Kaplan notes, the Haliburton-no-bid contracts in the Middle East, in addition to that company’s ties to the White House, have made the international community skeptical of America’s reform claims.

Recently China for the first time sentenced a corrupt official to death. “Now that is a piercing of the corporate veil that will exceed any fine,” says Kaplan.

Stopping short of death sentences, the European Union has come to the fore with its E.U. Privacy Directive. Basically the directive states that anyone collecting personal information must take very specific steps to protect that information. It also limits its processing and distribution. The E.U.’s special courts apply its strictures and rulings to all companies wishing to trade in Europe. Increasingly, companies are moving to adopt the higher ethical compliance standard to keep their options open.

But many cultural differences still remain. In America employees or individuals may anonymously blow the whistle on an offending corporation and keep their identity a secret. Europe has a long history of bad regimes running furtive courts with silent denunciations and thus will not allow any such confidential blaming.

Prevention techniques. There is an uneasy suspicion that many major corporate boards and CEOs view their companies merely as a personal stock manipulation venues. Such a shareholder, product, and worker-be-damned attitude is an instant business killer no company can afford, says Kaplan. “It becomes the board’s responsibility to be strong and interested enough in the company’s workings. They’ve got to hire the right CEO, and not be his policeman, but make him aware of the company’s priorities.”

Additionally, responsibility for ethical training of all levels of employees falls on the company’s shoulders. Insider trading, discrimination, and conflict of interest strictures go far beyond one’s innate moral sense. It is, for instance, illegal to ask a job candidate what he is planning to do over the Christmas holiday.

Australian-based SAI-Global, having recently bought up Midi Corporation, based in Plainsboro, now produces a series of short, online videos that present ethical problems and solutions to individuals. “Ethics in business are becoming more complex,” says Kaplan, “and you’ve got to choose some way to get the word across to all your team members.”

Whether pushed within by their own innate standards of decency or drawn externally by federal and foreign standards, American businesses are choosing ethics as the standard course of operation. In the end, business is built on trust. As we reach farther afield, the more vital that trust becomes. Companies cannot keep any employee who, inadvertently or otherwise, will tarnish their good name. It an irretrievable loss, which, as Shakespeare noted, is worth more than gold.

— Bart Jackson

Strategies For Growing Companies

Emerging growth companies need a lot more than they have to offer when they are looking for early-stage financing, either from venture capitalists or via licensing agreements. “Very early stage life science companies have little or no leverage,” says David Glazer, a senior associate in the business transactions practice at Morgan Lewis, because they desperately need both immediate cash and the payments they will earn as they achieve certain milestones during the development and commercialization of their products. But if they give away all of their marbles at this stage, they may be setting themselves up for trouble later on, when they are ready to sell the company or do an initial public offering.

Probably the best strategy for these emerging growth companies, Glazer suggests, is to focus on keeping as much control as possible in the key areas of patent maintenance and in prosecution and governance of the development process.

To give these early-stage life science companies a sense of what to keep in mind during these early negotiations, the New Jersey Technology Council offers “Life Science Companies: Begin with the End in Mind, Know Your Exit Before You Take the Ride!” on Wednesday, June 20, at 4 p.m. at Morgan Lewis, 502 Carnegie Center. Randall Sunberg, a partner at Morgan Lewis, moderates a panel that features Glazer as well as Paul Mlynarski, partner in tax services at Deloitte & Touche, and Lorenzo Pellegrini, a principal at the early-stage venture financing company Care Capital. Cost: $70. For more information or to register, go to www.njtc.org.

An emerging company’s core assets are its intellectual property and its products, and it is in the company’s interest to retain as much control as it can over them. When negotiating initial agreements, companies have to figure out where they are willing to give up control — because this loss of control is a reality.

Glazer’s recommendation, however, is to “keep as much control as possible,” because these core assets have strategic value for your company. Where possible he urges companies to negotiate for mutual decisionmaking, even if this is limited to certain key activities.

Two legal areas come to play during early-stage negotiations that will affect future ability to sell the company. But the wiggle room is small in terms of how much control the emerging company can retain, depending, says Glazer, “on how badly the licensee wants your product, what results you have had before, and how desperate you are for the cash.”

Patent prosecution and maintenance. The downside of not controlling a product’s patents can be severe. If, for example, the strategic licensing partner controls the patent and allows it to lapse, then the emerging company is not assured of patent protection in the marketplace. Of course the larger company is similarly at risk if the emerging company controls the patent and is generally the more powerful of the two negotiating entities.

Sometimes the emerging company, though, may have a good reason for wanting to control a patent. If the patent covers other products in the company’s portfolio, says Glazer, “it will be easier to make the argument that the emerging company should be in control, because the patent would protect a larger pool of products than the particular product that may be licensed in this deal.”

Development. Usually the larger company in a partnership feels that it should be in control of development because of its extensive experience, says Glazer, “and it doesn’t want the smaller company to get in the way.” The emerging company, on the other hand, feels “it’s their product, they came up with the idea, and they brought it to this stage of its product life.”

Furthermore, the development of a particular product may mean life or death for the emerging company. If, for example, it is licensing its only product to a large pharmaceutical with many products in its pipeline, the smaller company may fear, and rightly so, that the larger one may shunt its product aside due to other objectives, or concerns with other products. “They don’t want their product to get buried or pushed aside,” says Glazer.

Even though an emerging company does not have a lot of negotiating power, Glazer still believes it is critical to keep these control issues in mind throughout early negotiations. The ultimate strategic value of the product, and of the company, is at stake.

Glazer is a native of Cherry Hill, where his father is a certified public accountant and his mother a speech and language pathologist for the Cherry Hill public schools. Glazer graduated from Rutgers University in 1994 with a degree in political science and economics and from New York University School of Law in 1997.

Glazer says he likes being part of the process by which life-saving and other lifestyle drugs are taken from concept to development to commercialization. He says that the legal system is working effectively to support the necessary contract negotiations throughout this process.

“You don’t see a lot of deals die over legal or business issues,” he observes, but a deal does not make a marketable drug. “Certain drugs don’t make it to market because drug development is a complex and risky proposition. If it was easy, there wouldn’t be cancer.”

— Michele Alperin

Networking Opportunities Abound

Networking is an essential part of doing business. Whether you’ve been in business 10 weeks or 10 years, you need to constantly meet new people. There is no more powerful engine for turning the wheels on your business and your career. Yes, by now everyone has heard that it is essential to tap into the networks that have your fellow Little League parents, your hairdresser, and your fourth cousin once removed as their headwaters.

There are also organized networking groups, and the list is still growing. There are the traditional networking organizations, business groups such as the chambers of commerce and women’s groups like the New Jersey Association of Women Business Owners and the National Association of Business Owners, service organizations like Rotary International and Zonta, and “direct referral groups” like BNI and LeTip. There are also several new, often independent networking groups, springing up throughout the county.

Each group’s philosophies, meeting policies and dues, and “target markets” are all different. In fact, no matter when you want to network, or who you would like to meet, there’s a place for you. You can start as early as 7 a.m., and network your way through lunch and right into the post-dinner hours.

“There’s only one letter difference between networking and not working,” says Terry Petry, founder of WIN (Women in Networking) and owner of the Mercer County Woman newspaper.

Here’s a roundup of new networking opportunities available throughout the area.

Princeton Networking Group. This direct referral group began about three years ago with the goal of starting an independent networking group that was “flexible and understanding about how to take care of business on the local level,” says Dave Young, one of its founders. Young is with Z-Systems, a software, website development, and IT consulting company in Trenton.

PNG has a structure similar to most referral organizations, he says. Each member gives a 30-second introduction at each meeting, with one member giving a 10-minute presentation on his or her business each week. While referrals are an important part of the organization, the policies are flexible.

“We do not pressure members to bring a referral each week,” says Young. “We feel that fewer referrals that are of a higher quality, to people who are really interested in doing business with you, are the best. It’s a softer approach to referrals. If someone is giving referrals, they’ll receive referrals. If they aren’t interested in giving they won’t stay with the group for very long.”

The group currently has 16 members, with only one member per profession allowed. It meets on Thursdays at 7 a.m. at the Merrill Lynch building at 7 Roszel Road. Cost of membership is $125 for six months or $225 for a year. There is also a $25 one-time application fee. Potential members are asked to attend two meetings before petitioning to join the group. To receive an invitation to attend, contact Young at 609-890-2882, or check the website, www.princetonnetworking.com for more information.

DBA Networking Group. DBA, short for “Doing Business As,” is a second direct referral group. It was also organized about three years ago. The founders first considered starting a chapter of a nationally-affiliated group, “but we decided that we all had enough good corporate experience that we could form and run a group ourselves,” says John Kemmerer, account manager for Lafayette General Title Agency, located in Toms River.

The group’s purpose “is to help grow each member’s business in a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere.” There are no minimum referral requirements and Kemmerer says the group tries to keep costs low, with yearly dues of $100 and a $20 fee to cover the cost of breakfast and other miscellaneous expenses.

The group “has been growing steadily,” says Kemmerer, and currently has about 20 members in a variety of professionals, including a dentist, a sign company, and a mobile auto service. Only one person per profession is allowed in the organization, and prospective members must be voted on by enrolled members. DBA meets on Thursdays at 7 a.m. at the Americana Diner, Route 130, East Windsor. Contact Kemmerer at jkemmerer@gmail.com for more information.

Professional Women of New Jersey. This is one of the newest networking groups in the area. Its first meeting was held in April, with about 10 women attending. Its founder, Josie Pizzolato, wants to create an organization for women professionals, business owners, and executives that will help them connect with each other, build their business, and learn about business.

Pizzolato, the owner of the Loup Group, a website design company in East Windsor, plans to enlarge the organization to include chapters throughout the state. She is in the process of starting a website, supported by advertising, but free to users. It will include a wide variety of information for women in business, including links to government sites for registering a business and business tips. “This is the information I wanted to have when I first started in business,” she says. “I want to create a one-stop shop for women in business.”

A website alone is not enough, though, says Pizzolato. She is convinced that women want to meet each other and make a personal connection before doing business. The mother of two children, she also understands that many women cannot make a 7 a.m. meeting. PWNJ meets the third Wednesday of every month at 8:45 a.m. at the Americana Diner, Route 130, East Windsor. The meetings are free, each person pays only for her own breakfast. To learn more about PWNJ, contact Pizzolato at 609-799-2922, or through her blog site at http://pwnj.blogspot.com.

Team Nimbus. Team Nimbus is a business development and strategic planning company that works with small business owners and independent sales professionals.

“Never eat lunch alone,” is one of the mottos of Team Nimbus, according to Megan Oltman, owner of the New Jersey franchise. To help people accomplish that goal, Team Nimbus began sponsoring a weekly lunch in January. The lunches provide “a fast, easy way to do a little networking in the middle of your day,” says Oltman.

Attendees have an opportunity to network and to take part in a seminar on some aspect of business ownership — perhaps marketing, building client relationships, or developing new business. The sessions are “interactive,” with participants sharing ideas with each other, says Oltman, making the lunches are “a great place to bring someone you want to strengthen a business relationship with.”

The group meets each Thursday, at 11:30 a.m. at Triumph Brewing Company on Nassau Street. There is no charge for the meeting. Participants pay only the cost of their lunch. Reservations are necessary before attending. Call Oltman at 609-666-6592.

Women in Networking. “Shameless networking” is the motto of WIN, a one-year-old, loosely organized group that was founded by Terry Petry, the owner of Mercer County Woman, which is based in Hamilton, and Christina Nash, of David Lerner and Associates, with offices at 221 Rockingham Row. The monthly lunches offer “a quick venue to meet other women, promote yourself, and your products or services,” says Petry. There are no guest speakers, no monthly dues, and no attendance requirements, so that women can easily drop in and network if they have the time.

The group has grown steadily in the past year. At the first meeting, in April, 2006, there were 20 women. Now regular attendance averages 35, with last November’s meeting a high of 72. A recent look at the mailing list shows that about 300 different women have attended WIN meetings in the last year, says Petry.

WIN meets on third Thursday of every month, at noon, at Tessara’s Restaurant, Route 33, Hamilton. Cost is $15. Reservations can be made at www.whoscoming.com/WIN.

One For All Networking. This new “women’s non-compete” organization has been meeting for only a few months. The lunch meetings are designed for referral marketing, but there is no one-person-per-business category requirement. The program includes time for networking and introductions. The group meets the first Tuesday of each month, at noon, at Tessara’s Restaurant, Route 130, Hamilton. For reservations contact Mary Theresa Weil at weil479@optonline.net.

Powerful You! This national organization, based in Wayne, held a meeting in Princeton recently to “test the waters” for opening a Mercer County chapter. The group “will be starting a Princeton chapter in the next few months,” says its founder, Sue Urda. She is not yet sure of the date and time of the next meeting. Information on Powerful You! and the new chapter can be found at www.powerfulyou.com.

— Karen Hodges Miller

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