What can JBNF offer businesses?
By Joe van Zwaren and Marna Becker
People prefer doing business with people that they know, or that are recommended to them. Today, many people in Jerusalem that require a certain business resource will go to Tel Aviv; whether it is for a CEO, or an engineer for their new start-up, IP advice from patent attorneys, legal advice from lawyers, or even accounting. They will also go to Tel Aviv for graphic artists, and of course, the most developed investment community in the country. Tel Aviv has a powerful business environment with many networking events, well-organized business districts, and a comfortable café scene. In the past, many initiatives that started in Jerusalem leave for Tel Aviv and other cities because they started looking for their resources in the Tel Aviv area. Now, as the face of the business scene changes, people are discovering that Jerusalem has everything that Tel Aviv has to offer and more.
The Jerusalem Business Networking Forum (JBNF) was set up to make doing business in Jerusalem easier and better, by creating a strong, well-networked Jerusalem business community. By holding regular business and networking meetings, JBNF created a local Jerusalem ecosystem of business people and resources, that are able meet in a non-committal environment, and network/get to know each other. By developing personal relationships between businesspeople, JBNF is laying the foundations needed to conduct successful business deals, because business is usually done between people that know each other and trust each other. By building this strong business community, we are creating the human capital that leads to the growth of business in general. In this sense, JBNF has succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.
We currently have approximately 2500 members (1,750 in JBNF and 250 in JBNF-Biomed), in every trade and profession imaginable, with some incredibly good resources that would make Tel Aviv jealous. But to be effective, JBNF is primarily a business networking forum, not a social networking forum. To get the most of it, here are a few recommendations:
What coming to a JBNF event can do for your business:
- Before coming to an event, browse through the list of participants that have RVSP-ed to the event, and look for those people that are of professional interest to you. Reach out to them even before the event takes place. I always reach out to several new people before the meeting through the Meetup platform, so that at the meeting, the ice is already broken. When we meet, it will be much more comfortable and effective. Contacting people before an event and setting up a meeting with them during or after the event means that you will have much more focused interaction with them during the event.
- Use the “comment” feature when you RVSP to give a short elevator pitch on who you are, what you do, and what you are looking for. Market yourself!
- During an event, get out of your comfort zone and introduce yourself to people that you do not know. You will definitely meet some interesting new contacts.
- Contact the JBNF organizing committee members or the meeting hosts before or after the event. They know their membership well. Tell them what kind of people you are interested in meeting, and ask them to introduce you to new contacts.
- Do not spend a lot of time with one person. Instead spend 5-10 minutes with a person, and then go to the next one. If you find an interesting contact, follow up with them by arranging a private meeting with them. Typically, we have anywhere between 50-120 participants who attend each JBNF event. There are possibly 1-2 GREAT new contacts in the audience. What can you do to increase the chances that you will meet them?
- If you are at a JBNF event and you meet two different people that ought to meet each other because it would be opportune for them, then go ahead and introduce them. Wouldn’t you appreciate it if someone introduced you to a potential investor, client or other perfect resource?
Metcalfe’s law states that the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system. So the power of a network expands exponentially as its number expands. This is also true of the JBNF network as we increase in number. The more professionals that are active with us, the more powerful JBNF will be when it comes to helping your business; and in accelerating the economy of Jerusalem. But this is only true if JBNFers network effectively, ensuring that JBNF maintains a strong sense of community, where one feels responsible for the well-being of his fellow JBNFer.
How the JBNF network can help your business between meetings:
JBNF has a network of approximately 2000 members, and as it continues to grow, it offers you several ways to market your services or products. JBNF wants you to succeed. After all, your success is JBNF’s success, and your success is the success of Jerusalem. Here are a few recommendations as to how you can make the JBNF network work for you:
By helping others, it will come back to you:
- Volunteer your services or skills to JBNF. JBNF has been built up only through volunteers. JBNF always gives credit to our volunteers and in this way, you present yourself to a growing community of 2500+ professionals, as someone who likes to help, and who has valuable services to offer.
- Become a JBNF event host that helps to make matches among JBNFers. You will receive in-depth knowledge about the members of the JBNF community-and fast!
Stand out at JBNF events by doing the following:
- Give out brochures or demonstrate your product at JBNF events.
- At every JBNF event, 2-4 JBNFers are asked to give a one minute elevator pitch about themselves and their business. This is a quick and easy way for you to present yourself to others, while generating interest in your product or service.
- Sponsor or co-sponsor a JBNF event. This is a great way to give your business or organization some great exposure. Sponsorships can be as simple as offering to bring part of the refreshments or a few platters of cut up veggies. (But please coordinate with the event organizer.) Opportunities for more significant sponsorships are also available. Please speak to a member of the organizing committee about this.
- When an event is announced, use the discussion area on the Meetup site to soft-sell yourself, your service, or your product.
JBNF on Facebook:
- “Like” and post to the JBNF Facebook page to stay on top of news there.
Use the new official JBNF website (!)
- The new JBNF website will offer many new and exciting ways to market your business – these will be posted as they come “online.” (Pardon the pun!)
- Put a link to the official JBNF site on your work site, and have JBNF reciprocate.
Initiate a JBNF activity:
- Organize a professional event. It could be a business or personal development event or a specialized networking meeting. It might be a product presentation on a certain theme that demonstrates your own products, or that of other JBNFers. If it is free, JBNF will be happy to advertise it. If it has a registration fee, giving JBNFers a discount will get JBNF to advertise you.
- Organize a social or charity event for fellow JBNFers such as a hike or a bike ride. This is a fun and relaxing way to business network.
Over the past seven years, the JBNF platform has facilitated dozens of business deals, employment opportunities, hundreds of service contracts, and millions of shekels in investment. It is a great thing to be able to help Jerusalem businesses. The more you work on being a better networker, the more business is accelerated in Jerusalem- for everyone’s benefit. JBNF hopes to work towards the vision where Jerusalem’s economy will match, and even surpass that of Tel Aviv, and that Jerusalem will become a magnet for young professionals. Can you afford not to be a part of this commercial adventure?