Corrections or additions?
These articles were prepared for the November 3, 2004
issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Survival Guide: Wine Tastings
Glendale Liquors in South Brunswick is a good commercial neighbor; it
supports lifelong learning. So it is only natural that on Thursday,
November 4, at 6:30 p.m., when high end appliance manufacturer Miele
hosts a benefit for the South Brunswick Public Library at its
corporate headquarters on Route 1 that Glendale joins in and provides
Despite its being a benefit for the major expansion by the library
[which is headed by the wife of U.S. 1’s Bart Jackson], cost has been
held to $50, which includes cooking demonstrations and food presented
by chef Susan Jaslove, blended with Glendale’s array of over 100 wine
selections. Call 732-329-4000, ext. 7287. The question is: what does
all this effort really do for the bottom line of Glendale Liquors?
Are such consumer wine tastings, which have grown so popular, merely
nice public gestures, or are they a savvy, thrifty way of expanding a
customer base? One thing is certain: America’s taste for the grape has
metamorphosed time out of mind in the last few decades. Wine tastings
are being held everywhere from museums to orchards. After tasting,
many are buying, pushing per capital wine consumption in the country
up by nearly a third, from just over two gallons to nearly three
gallons in just a few years. It is hard to determine whether the
retailers are instructing their customers or vice versa. Whichever way
this cork and bottle controversy comes down, wine mania was not on the
radar when Benjamin Leannari opened the first Glendale Liquors 30
The Leannari family’s entrance into the liquor business was a bit of a
fluke. Benjamin, having carved a successful career as a Trenton
realtor, found himself in possession of a lot on the corner of Parkway
Avenue and Pennington Road. A liquor store seemed the most profitable
venture for the less than prestigious property. Thus began the first
Back in the mid l970s, it was mostly West Coast jug wine and various
European vintages crossing the counter. Wine accounted for at most 20
percent of a liquor store’s business, with the real profits coming
from beer and the hard stuff. But things changed:
The wine explosion. Fifteen years later, under the guidance of Ben’s
sons, Joe and Bernie Leannari, Glendale expanded, opening up the South
Brunswick store on Route 27, on the edge of Kendall Park. Then eight
years ago, they opened the third Glendale Liquors in the chain,
located on Quakerbridge Road. Now, the old sales profile has virtually
"Today at least three-quarters of the stock we sell is wine, and the
amount is rising," says Bart Deschaepmeester, wine master of South
Brunswick’s Glendale Liquors. Many factors account for this beverage
shift, but the Glendale’s manager sees the primary cause as education.
Twenty years ago most Americans just did not know wine varieties.
Customers would hit upon one acceptable brand and make it their
personal house wine, without change. Now a massive push from global
markets and the current try-and-buy attitude has made customers yearn
for both knowledge and taste.
Deschaepmeester views America’s growing interest in the grape with an
amused detachment. Born in Zeeland, Belgium, he grew up in a
wine-loving household in a wine-loving nation. "As a child, my
grandmother and uncles would take me on tours through all the
vineyards in Burgundy," he recalls. "I had no idea they were planting
seeds that would determine my career." Immigrating and settling in
West Trenton, Deschaepmeester took on the job of Glendale’s manager in
l997. As the growing number of wines compete for space in the 7,000
square-foot store, its manager struggles to get buyer feedback and
keep abreast of trends.
What’s newest & finest? Many new trends peer over the wine horizon,
but probably the greatest is the desire to experiment. Oenophiles
increasingly want less to be credited as imbibers of impressive
classical vintages, than as the pioneer who is bringing to light some
as yet untasted discovery – and they are eager to go global in their
Gone are the days when Napa Valley stands as the sole upstart against
the entrenched vines of France, Germany, and Italy. "Australia and
Chile have joined the international market, not just as major
producers, but as ardent competitors for international awards," says
Deschaepmeester. But even these, he hastens to add, are now too
established to be considered fertile grounds for discovery. Instead,
look to South Africa and Argentina to bring new surprises.
South Africa has had a long wine history with a great number of
vineyards cultivated over vast acreage. Then under apartheid,
Deschaepmeester explains, the nation’s premier vintners left the
country and moved to Europe and California, where they were welcomed
as knowledgeable workers. Now these experts are returning to their
homeland, bringing all the latest American and European techniques
(and more than a few root stocks). The result is a host of high end
selections. Deschaepmeester goes to the 20 shelf feet of South African
bottles and pulls down a De Toren Fusion V for $20 and a Nek Ellis
Shiraz for $15, either of which compares admirably with a $35 French
Cote de Roti.
Perched up against the Andes, the Mendosa region of Argentina boasts a
wine history dating back to the Jesuits in the early 16th century. For
centuries the area’s huge Italian immigrant population has produced an
astounding quantity of wine, which most critics felt was better left
within the region. But recently wine-guzzling Mendosians have been
switching to beer and soda, forcing the region’s wineries to shape up
for the international markets.
Also, watch out for a German invasion. Many of the Rhine vineyards
have had several good vintages, with a crisp taste, leading to a
rediscovery of this long neglected source.
Tasting: cost/benefit. "We are a lot like the South Brunswick
Library," jokes Deschaepmeester, "They need their patrons to be
literate before they’ll take out a book, and we need them literate
before they’ll buy our wine." Thus Glendale champions wine literacy
through tastings. On Saturday, October 23, the store set up a tasting
for a McCarter Theater benefit. There may be another on All Hallows
Eve weekend, then quick on its heels comes the November 4, South
Brunswick Library benefit at Miele.
Does the discerning retailer adjust for theater versus library
supporters; Princeton versus South Brunswick? "Not really," says
Deschaepmeester. "Wine authority is a lost cause. People are
increasingly choosing by their palate, not their pocketbook or by the
experts’ dictates." Additionally, this time of fall and the early
spring are the main wine tasting seasons. Most all suppliers are
embroiled in a frantic tasting schedule and Glendale must select from
For Glendale Liquors itself, the actual financial outlay for a tasting
is fairly minimal. Typically, Deschaepmeester assembles eight
different suppliers, each of whom brings quantities of 10 different
wines. The retail store tosses in another 20 or so offerings to round
out the choices to an even 100. The real cost comes in staff time –
long days behind the counter ending at midnight – both in the store
and at the tasting sight. Then there are of course comes the state’s
off-site licensing fees: three required at usually $200 each.
All this effort and good will seldom translates into an immediate
stampede of customers charging through the door. But, if gradual, the
effects are noticeable. The public tastings and wine literacy
instruction steadily builds a loyal customer base that is unachievable
any other way. For a retail liquor store, one wine tasting is far
cheaper, and has proven far more effective, than a major print ad.
– Bart Jackson
When the Fortune 50 engineering firm that Vicki Foley worked for in
the early 1990’s closed its central New Jersey offices, she was given
the option to relocate to the new offices in central Connecticut, or
to lose her job. A New Jersey resident her whole life, Foley was
reluctant to move her young family, which included a toddler and one
on the way. Instead, she used the outplacement services offered by
her company and began the process of looking for a new job. After a
while, she began to look upon the job loss as an opportunity to
re-think her career. "I really stopped, looked, and assessed what I
liked to do," she says.
Now a senior vice president with Lee Hecht Harrison, a career and
leadership management services company, Foley supports other people in
taking the steps necessary to find and manage their perfect careers.
Just like she did all those years ago.
On Saturday, November 6, at 8:30 a.m. Foley speaks to the Career
Professional Networking Group at St. Paul’s Church on Nassau Street on
"Targeting the Job You Want." During her years with Lee Hecht
Harrison, she has worked with countless people forced into transition,
just as she was, and she says that the key to finding the job you want
is a targeted strategy.
Raised in Mt. Laurel, Foley received her undergraduate degree in
business administration at Thomas Edison State College. Her father
spent his entire career with RCA as a draftsman. When Foley was in
third grade, RCA went on strike, and her mother went to work to
support the family. What started out as a temporary solution, turned
into a lifelong career. Starting in an administrative position at
Union Carbide, she retired from a management position. Married with
three children, Foley is currently in graduate studies at Rutgers,
working on her master’s in occupational development and psychology.
Foley’s career with Lee Hecht Harrison came about when she was using
them for outplacement, but she says she never would have considered
that work if she hadn’t done her homework. Previously content in
human resources, when she started rethinking her options and expanding
her vision, she saw that she really wanted to work on the other side
of the desk, helping people develop themselves and their careers.
Originally focused in the career management and transition division of
LHH, Foley is now focusing her energy in the leadership consulting
side of the business, helping organizations become better performers
through leadership development.
During her upcoming talk, she plans to preach what she practiced
during her own career transition.
When people lose a job, "they lose control over their own lives,"
Foley says. Even if someone is currently in a job and on the market,
the process of job hunting can make even the most confident soul feel
tossed about by elements beyond their control. The smartest thing
that job hunters can do, says Foley, is to take the control back.
"You can take control back by targeting your marketing," she says.
The biggest mistake people make when looking for a job is that they go
about it randomly, sending out resumes, looking at ads, and networking
without any real focus. Foley recalls speaking to a group of about 50
people on the job-hunting topic where she asked how many had a
marketing plan. "Maybe 10 hands went up," she says. "But that’s what
it’s about; a job hunt really IS about marketing. You’re marketing
And even though books are out there, and the conventional wisdom says
to get strategic, some people don’t really get it. "I think if
someone hasn’t been through this before they really don’t know how to
do it," she says. But having a marketing plan makes your job search
efficient. It helps you take control. It’s re-energizing and it
helps you be more confident in your search. To get targeted, she says,
first you have to take stock. Steps include:
Assess your strengths. Think about what you’re really good at. This
might include the obvious skills that you have used in your job, but
it also might include the intangibles, such as your ability to get
along with people and diffuse difficult situations.
Determine your likes and dislikes. "You may be really good at
accounting," says Foley, "but you may be burned out it." You’ll want
to avoid that in the future. Or maybe, she says, you really like
something that you only were able to do every once in a while.
"You’ll want to look for that in your next role," she says.
Determine your job objective. Now that you have looked at your
strengths, likes, and dislikes, you’ve probably got a good idea of
where you’re leaning in your search. What do you want to do? What
sort of contribution do you want to make to an organization and what
kind of role would that be? Then, make a plan.
Do your market research and identify companies. Once you know the sort
of role you would like to play in an organization, "look for companies
that have that function whether they are hiring or not." You never
know, says Foley, a company that isn’t hiring today might be in the
market for someone just like you next week. Or they might be able to
recommend someone who is.
Develop your market strategy. Make a list of your top 15 to 20
companies. "Ask yourself," says Foley, "how am I going to get
connected? Do I know any key players? Who can introduce me?" If you
hear about a pharmaceutical company that has just introduced a drug
into Phase III, "think about what that could mean to you," she says.
"Don’t just send your resume. Think of ways you can get connected.
Talk to your network. Share your top 20 list with them and ask them:
what’s the latest? Do you know anybody there?"
Keep at it. Stay on the case and don’t give up. But, she cautions,
develop a Plan B. "Don’t wait until you hit the wall to have another
strategy," Foley says. If you really wanted to work in public
relations but you aren’t making headway, consider a non-profit
organization or a corporate communications office. If you consider
your options in advance, says Foley, you will continue to feel in
control of your job search before you land the job you’re targeting.
– Deb Cooperman
With new laws that make patient confidentiality more important than
ever, a major hospital received a nasty jolt when it received a
message saying, "Your medical records are out in the open," and
threatening to post them on the Internet. The entire University of
California San Francisco Medical Center jumped back. For two decades
this hospital had outsourced the tedious chore of transcribing
dictated medical notes. Now through a series of four different
subcontractors, the files had ended up in the hands of an outraged
Pakistani whose employer had failed to pay her wages. Outsourcing run
As an increasing number of legal, accounting, and medical companies
seek to trim costs and tedium via subcontracting, the towering ideal
of client privacy seems to quiver more than a little. Public awareness
of this problem, along with some possible solutions, is the topic of
"Global Outsourcing: A Double-edged Sword," one of many programs at
the Garden State chapter of the Society of Human Resource Managers’
Annual Conference on Monday and Tuesday, November 8 and 9, at 7 a.m.
at the Westin Forrestal Village. Visit www.GSCSHRM.org. for more
The Global Outsourcing seminar, taking place on Monday at 1:45 p.m.,
features Rider University professors Steve Lorenzet, of the business
management department, and assistant provost Jim Castagnera. The
speakers seek an interactive workshop, with discussion of how
outsourcing affects morale, profits, security, and other issues.
Few men have bounced around the business world, and gained as many
perspectives as labor attorney, entrepreneur, professor, and business
journalist Castagnera. Born in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, and raised in
this scenic Lehigh River Valley town, Castagnera attended Franklin and
Marshall College, earning a B.A. in government in l969. He then moved
to Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University where he became
director of communications while working on his Ph.D. in American
Realizing that a law degree and doctorate in digital computers might
be a better source of groceries than American studies, Castagnera
completed these two degrees, then added a journalism masters from Kent
State while in the Coast Guard. After a stint in Texas, Castagnera
returned East, working as a labor and employment lawyer. He guided the
leveraged buy-out of Krausers convenience stores and ended up as a
partner in the chain for about a year. He now teaches business at
Rider University and writes a weekly column, "Attorney at Large."
"I’d like to say that this case of the unpaid clerk in Pakistan is
rare," says Castagnera, "but similar incidents turn up in the papers
every day." There can be no doubt that compartmentalizing one’s
production by outsourcing can frequently decrease costs and allow
quicker fulfillment of orders. Yet the instant information leaves your
office door, just how much control do you maintain? How well can you
honestly protect your own clients?
Privacy published. The real control problem, Castagnera notes, is that
most companies assume that their work is only being outsourced one
step – to the one subcontractor with whom they conduct business. In
the case of the University of California San Francisco Medical Center,
the patient files went first to Transcription Stat. Owned by Kim
Kaneko, this firm had been handling UCSF’s patient files for over 20
years. Kaneko outsourced the files to Sonya Newburn in Florida, who in
turn outsourced them to Texas subcontractor Tom Spires. He shipped
them off to the Pakistani woman, Lubna Baloch. In each case, the
subcontractor felt certain that it was sending the patient files to
the people who would actually do the work.
The American Association of Medical Transcription estimates that about
10 percent of all medical transcription is done abroad. And
interestingly, the real out-sourcing panic typically begins only when
the client information leaves America’s borders. But apparently Ms.
Baloch advertised herself over the Internet as a medical doctor and
Spires, the Texas subcontractor, separated by cyberspace, became
totally unreachable. Both those transgressions could have just as
easily occurred if the files had never left San Francisco. It is the
business process, not the nationality, that puts client/patient
information at risk.
Tax forms abroad. Financial records are just as sensitive as hospital
records, and the pressure is on the accountants. For years tax
preparation firms have faced the annual "Easter Parade," when the tax
season is all wrapped up and employees fidget nervously, awaiting
their pink slips. The answer to this boom-and-bust hiring and laying
off process is to ship the forms to India. In 2001 India Chartered
Accountants prepared 1,000 American tax forms. Last year, the figure
jumped to 20,000, with an estimate of 200,000 for this year.
For the American firms, the Indian college graduate accountants’ $250
a month cost, compared with the $3,000 to $4,000 monthly salary of
U.S. preparers, marks a real savings. But many legislators say that
the risks outweigh the savings. Senator Diane Feinstein has stated to
several major banks that: "I am gravely concerned that sensitive
consumer data, as tax preparation, is being sent overseas without
proper safeguard." Senator John Kerry is seeking legislation to have
all such overseas operations disclose their locations.
Exporting your briefs. Throughout thousands of law firms, attorneys
sit in their offices, keeping client secrets, shredding every telltale
document, while just outside their doors their secretaries dutifully
ship the entire client files to some unknown Internet station.
According to an August article in the Newark Star- Ledger, Newark’s
McCarter & English, the Garden State’s largest law firm, sends trial
documents to Indian vendors for coding to free staff for more
Morristown’s Riker, Danzig, Scherer, Hyland & Pernetti refuses to
outsource any work overseas, saying in the same Star Ledger article
that it always asks vendors if work is going to be sent out of the
country. "You’ve got to protect your own," said managing partner Glenn
Clark in the Star Ledger article.
The process of outsourcing began quietly about five years ago in the
legal community with such clerical chores as proofreading and basic
coding. Now the trend has taken off and case citations and even trial
organizations are being prepared by out-of-nation subcontractors.
India, an English-speaking nation with similar laws increasingly is
seen as fertile outsourcing ground. "Despite all encryption methods,
this sort of outsourcing puts the home attorney at incredible
liability – both moral and legal," says Castagnera.
No one logically should predict the death of outsourcing due to
security risk. More and more information will get spread further and
further abroad, count on it. But before taking on the risk
subcontracting, firms might want to think twice. As American
Association for Medical Transcription’s president Amy Buckmaster
states: "We don’t say that outsourcing is a terrible thing. We only
say it needs to be disclosed."
– Bart Jackson
People cost money. And the wrong people cost more than the right ones.
The significant sign of a poorly run company is high turnover in
personnel. So instead of cringing at the cost of searching for that
one perfect employee, consider the fiscal liability of jamming an
inadequate person into a demanding position. Whether measuring by
company morale, production, or just plain bottom line, excavating that
ideal individual from the hundreds of resumes is a valuable discovery.
The archaeology of such talent demands an exactingly specific,
organized approach insists Susan Gauff in her talk "Hire for Higher
Performance." Gauff, founder and CEO of the Growth Solutions Group,
which has offices at 66 Witherspoon Street, is one of a host of
featured speakers at the Garden State chapter of the Society of Human
Resource Managers’ annual conference, on Monday and Tuesday, November
8 and 9, at 7 a.m. at the Westin Hotel in Forrestal Village. For more
information visit www.GSCSHRM.org.
Gauff’s Monday morning lecture, at 7:15 a.m., is aimed at showing how
a few simple steps can slash employee turnover and increase
shareholder value. Her original candidate assessment techniques, as
detailed on www.PredictiveHiring.com, have been forged throughout
three decades of solid business personnel experience in major
corporations. Born in West Virginia, Gauff graduated from Centenary
College in l967 with a B.A. in government.
As senior communications director of Siemens, Gauff raised employee
satisfaction to an unheard of 89 percent amidst a 50 per cent
downsizing, she says. As vice president of corporate communications
for Lexmark International, she handled shareholder and employee
relations through the firm’s first public offering.
"Eight years ago, I wanted to settle down somewhere permanently," she
says. "While I always saw myself as a marketer, Sarnoff offered me a
human resource position." For five years as senior vice president of
people and communications, Gauff enticed and selected Sarnoff’s top
talent. Then, three years ago, she stepped out on her own, forming her
human resource consulting firm, Growth Solutions.
Many of the solutions Gauff and her consulting team bring to their
clients come in the form of structuring typically haphazard hiring and
promotion practices. There is a better way to unearth talent. Some of
the components include:
Chemical dependency. Three partners need a new CFO. The common answer
is that each partner conducts a separate face-to-face interview with
each short list candidate. If one partner does not like what he sees,
the candidate is gone.
Simple, swift and woefully ineffective. "The personal interview is one
worthwhile hiring tool – but only one," says Gauff. "For too many
companies, this groping about for personal charisma serves as the sole
hiring procedure." It makes the entire selection process dependent on
the personal chemistry between the candidate and someone with whom he
probably will not be working.
Instead, Gauff suggests that companies first establish at what point
in the hiring procedure personal interviews should come. Secondly, how
much weight should the face-to-face be given against the other hiring
tools in the total evaluation package.
Lax hiring discipline. "The most common flaw in staffing?" Gauff’s
answer is instantaneous: "The total lack of a standardized hiring
discipline." All too often, vital questions are left to conversational
style interviews, which means that information is often lost or each
candidate reveals only one side of himself.
Gauff believes in the interview, but says that questions should be
standard for all candidates. A great deal of help is available on the
Internet, she points out. There are also several $100 software
packages with a question series that interviewers can customize.
"These provide junior league, much cheaper versions of the Herb
Greenberg/Caliper assessments, with questions that determine
motivation and ability in qualifications within context of the job,"
she says. "They are the kind of revealing questions which the
interviewee can’t fudge."
Passing the test. Between the resume culling and the actual short list
invitation, Gauff frequently inserts a testing step. Tests, again
customizable from inexpensive software, can be E-mailed out to a
larger list of qualified people. Depending on the employer’s need,
they can discern specific skills, personality traits, or merely
Standardizing questions and one’s entire hiring discipline also
affords legal protection to the employer. In case of any hiring or
promotion grievance, the human resource professional can display a
regimented, scrupulously impartial paper trail.
Being smart about the big picture. No employee labors in a vacuum – at
least not well. Thus employers like to invite important potential
executives down to the house for the weekend to learn about the whole
person. Gauff sees this as a fine instinct, but one that requires more
analysis on the employer’s part.
Gauff dissects "that gut feeling" into five categories. Abilities
involves certain overall strengths such as problem solving. Motivation
entails not just if, but how and why, a person is driven toward
performance. Personality proves important in blending individuals into
a work force. Behavior, unlike less changeable personality,
encompasses how a person reacts to certain situations. Is he
malleable? Job skills and experience provide the nurture side to the
Assemble solid facts on each of these five and you should have a good
working profile of the individual. Chances are that a weekend of
fishing and cooking out will not be enough to gather all of the
Pricey turnovers. "Reduce your company’s turnover rate by only one
percent, and you’ll save thousands," says Gauff. For doubting clients,
she crunches the numbers. Let’s say your $100,000 a year sales
executive decides to move on after only one year. What are the
rehiring costs? Well first figure the time lost while you spend two
months searching a replacement – $16,600. Then count the lost business
caused by this key person’s absence – $30,000 in lost sales and
opportunities. Don’t forget the staff time to take on his extra burden
and the human resource cost of searching and interviewing – a
conservative $25,000. Of course once you get this new star, he must be
trained – another $10,000. And even so, he won’t be up to productive
snuff for another three or four months – $33,000 lost. Total: $114,600
– more than the executive’s original salary, and this doesn’t even
consider the double billing of severance and pensions.
As Eddie Cantor so soulfully crooned in his l930s song, "Making
Whoopie," "You’d better keep her. You’ll find it’s cheaper." Wise
advice for human resource folks who want to keep their corporate
family happy and in the black.
– Bart Jackson
Everybody from CEOs of Fortune 10 companies to lawyers, associations,
politicians, and journalists are blogging. B.L. Ochman, president of
whatsnextonline.com of New York City discusses this burgeoning form
of communication at the NJ Communications, Advertising and Marketing
Association’s (NJ CAMA) luncheon on Tuesday, November 9, at 11:30 a.m.
at the Doral Forrestal Hotel. Cost: $40. Call 609-799-4900.
Ochman talks about how blogs, basically ongoing online journals or
collections of news items or commentary, fit into the marketing mix,
and their applications in PR and customer service. Participants also
learn who in the company should blog, what should you blog about, the
costs involved, and how to build an audience.
B.L. Ochman is an award-winning Internet marketing strategist,
blogger, and sought after corporate speaker. She publishes the
successful online newsletter What’s Next Online, and the popular
What’s Next Blog. She conducts Bloginars for corporations and
associations and frequently speaks blogging at conferences. Her
Internet marketing successes include Internet strategy consultation
for Ford Motors, IBM, Biomerica Corporation, and Thomas Register.
Ochman has created traditional marketing/public relations campaigns
for companies ranging from entrepreneurial ventures to multi-billion
dollar international companies including Stew Leonard’s Connecticut
grocery store, Miracle-Gro Plant Food, The American Dairy Association,
and Kaneka Corporation.
She is the author of the soon-to-be-released book, Plugged In PR. She
has taught marketing at FIT. Her articles on Internet marketing and
public relations strategy are published regularly online in Marketing
Profs, Expert PR, and many others and offline in On Wall Street
Magazine, PR Reporter, Ballyhoo, and the Strategist.
Networking is a lot like the Golden Rule, according to businesswomen
Sherise Ritter and Marguerite Mount. "Treat others like you wanted to
be treated," says Ritter, who with her partner, Mount, is a managing
director of the Mercadien Group. The two, along with Judith
Lindenberger of the Lindenberger Group speaks as part of the Mercer
Business Forum Series.
"Expanding Relationships through Mentoring and Networking: The Sky’s
the Limit," is the title of the presentation taking place on
Wednesday, November 10, at the Conference Center at Mercer County
Community College. Breakfast and registration begin at 7:45 a.m. The
forum is sponsored by the Women in Business Committee of the Greater
Mercer Chamber of Commerce. Cost: $20 for Chamber members, $25 for
non-members. To register, check online at www.mercerchamber.org.
Ritter and Mount attribute much of their business success to
networking and mentoring, and say the two topics are closely related.
"Mentoring and networking cross a lot of lines," says Mount. "They are
both relationship-based tools." Mentoring can, in fact, come out of
what begins as a networking relationship. "Mentoring is a one-on-one
relationship between a seasoned professional and someone who is just
entering into an area," says Mount.
"It is a coaching, teaching, and nurturing relationship and most of
time the mentor gets as much out of it as mentee," Ritter adds.
Networking is also about "developing trusted business relationships,"
says Ritter. "A lot of people think that networking means handing out
business cards. You go to a big event and if you hand out a lot of
cards to different people it has been successful." That is the wrong
approach to networking, the two women agree. Instead, "if you go to an
event and hand out one card and have one solid conversation with
someone, then you’ve been successful at networking," says Mount.
Ritter and Mount say that they "have mentored and been mentored by"
each other during their 20-year professional relationship. They also
credit their first employer, John Lee, with teaching them about both
skills. "One of John Lee’s personal goals was to become president of
the New Jersey State Society of CPAs," says Ritter. "The year that he
made that goal he brought us with him and exposed us to a lot of
people and to a lot of opportunities. It was our first real networking
experience." Eventually, Mount and Ritter purchased Lee’s company and
it became the Mount-Ritter Group, a certified public accounting and
Networking also played a significant part in the recent merger of the
Mount-Ritter Group with Mercadien, which is based on Quakerbridge Road
in Hamilton. Ritter first met members of the Mercadien group through
her volunteer work on the Hamilton Township Economic Development
Advisory Commission. "We found as we talked that we shared the same
business philosophies and the same ideas for innovations," she says.
Mercadien is a group of companies that assist business in a variety of
growth and profitability issues, including accounting and auditing;
tax, non-profit, and public entity consulting; estate and trust
planning, litigation support, business and management consulting,
asset management, technology consulting, outsourcing, and foundation
The original, brief networking discussion led to further talks between
the two companies and eventually there was a "marriage" of the two.
"We felt the merger would take two strong entities and make them both
stronger," says Mount. "They had a 70 person firm and we brought our
all of our 12-person firm along with us."
As partners, Mount and Ritter have found their personal interests have
taken them into different areas, doubling their networking contacts.
"We are part of different organizations and in different community
activities and different boards," says Ritter. A graduate of Rider
University, she is a member of the Rider University Accounting
Advisory Council and the Mercer County Chapter of NJAWBO (New Jersey
Association of Women Business Owners). Along with her work for
Hamilton Township, she is also a long-time supporter of the YWCA of
Trenton and is currently chairman of its Centennial Anniversary
Mount is a member of the board of Preservation New Jersey and chairman
of the City of Bordentown Historic Sites Committee and Gilder Park
Task Force. She is a trustee and past president of the Bordentown
Historical Society and chairman of the arts committee of the YWCA of
Trenton. She is also treasurer and a member of the executive committee
of Hamilton Partners, a business group designed to improve economic
growth and development in the greater Hamilton area.
Often, networking begins at a large event, whether it is a Chamber of
Commerce lunch or a charitable event. In such a situation, how should
a businessperson begin networking?
Introductions are important say Ritter and Mount. "If you are in a
group of people, make sure everyone is introduced to each other.
Remember your business etiquette." Help the person in the corner to
join the group, and he will never forget your kindness.
Engage with people is another important rule. "When you are having a
conversation, look at the person you are talking to. Don’t look over
their shoulder at who else is coming into a room," says Ritter.
Quality is more important than quantity, the two say. The winner at a
networking event is not the person who walks away with the largest
business card collection, but the one who has made one or two solid
Networking doesn’t end when the event is over. Collecting that
business card is just the first step. Developing that contact into a
relationship is what makes networking successful.
The most important rule of networking, however, say Ritter and Mount,
is to remember that to be successful you must be sincere, not
"Networking is about building trusted relationships," says Mount.
"After I meet someone at an event, I want to follow-up with them if I
think that either I can provide something for them or they can provide
something for me." It can be as simple, she says, as sending an E-mail
to answer a technical question, or getting together for coffee with
someone who interests you. "Getting in touch with someone after
networking shouldn’t feel like cold calling," she adds. "You should
have something in common with them."
Another mistake that people often make in networking, says Ritter, is
thinking only in terms of customers and clients. In her business, she
says, "I’m the quarterback for my client’s team. I can’t do everything
for a client, but I can recommend other people they can trust." Those
contacts may range from the obvious, such as an attorney, to the
obscure, such as recommending an architect or other professional.
Even, adds Mount, finding a mentor for a client who is branching into
a new area. "Anything I can do for my client enhances my relationship
with him," she explains.
Most important, say Mount and Ritter, is to remember that a networking
relationship should benefit both parties. Volunteering in your
community is a wonderful example of how networking can benefit both
parties. Ritter’s work with the YWCA is just one example. "I began
volunteering and it has become my passion," she says. "I saw a need to
help them with finances and I have the right experience. Then I became
board chairman. It’s turned into a 10-year relationship."
That relationship is "a two-way street," she says. "I have gained
experiences there that I couldn’t have anywhere else. It’s been an
experience I wouldn’t replace with anything."
Again, having your name on a board of directors without actively
working is not enough to be true networking, Ritter and Mount say;
participation in the key. "Networking is like a solar system," says
Mount. "Everything has to rotate around each other."
– Karen Hodges Miller
New Jersey’s small businesses can now access applications online and
at all PNC Bank branches for a new $100-million, below-market rate
loan program to help them purchase equipment and machinery or acquire
real estate. The program, called the New Jersey Business Growth Fund
and announced on October 29, has been developed jointly by the New
Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) and PNC Bank.
PNC Bank is making up to $100 million in low-interest loans available
to New Jersey companies committed to creating or maintaining jobs in
New Jersey, while the EDA is providing up to a 50 percent guarantee of
any single loan for qualified projects under the program. The loans
are being offered at below-market rates either floating at prime
(currently 4.75 percent) minus 2.5 percent, or fixed at the five-year
U.S. Treasury rate (currently 3.37 percent). Businesses with annual
sales of up to $20 million are eligible to apply for the program, but
must commit to creating at least one new job for every $50,000
guaranteed. Manufacturing companies need only commit to maintaining
existing jobs. Loans can range from $100,000 to $2 million.
Applications for the New Jersey Business Growth Fund are available at
all PNC Bank branches in New Jersey, at www.pncbank.com, or at
www.njeda.com. They can also be obtained by calling PNC Bank at
877-BUS-BNKG (877-287-2654), option 3.
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