Sick of Stale Danishes? How I Found a Better Breed of Networking, by Damon Finaldi, Tele-Data Solutions
Hi! I’m Damon Finaldi, and I’m the president of Tele-Data Solutions in Union, New
Jersey. We help small and midsize businesses throughout the New Jersey area solve
their business problems through voice-over IP phone systems and solutions. I’ve been
in this VoIP industry for a long time now, and through those years, I’ve developed a
diverse base of professional associates, customers, and fellow business owners. When
I first started my career, though, I didn’t have this network at my disposal or the
experience to even know how to start. I knew I needed a leg up and more than a little bit
of help, so I started seeking out organizations that offered networking in NJ.
Short on practical experience but big on enthusiasm, I began diving into my options.
Knowing I wanted to join a networking group was an important first step, but I soon
found I had little means to evaluate the quality and concrete value of these different
groups. I quickly found myself asking: What sets one group apart from the other? Which
one can help me achieve my business goals?
Eventually I decided the only way to figure it out was simply to commit to one. My first
real foray into networking in NJ was through LeTip International, Inc. I joined this group
early in my career, and after one year of 7:00 a.m. meetings (and lots of accompanying
stale Danishes), I had learned some basic but still valuable networking skills. However, I
had also learned this group didn’t fish in the same proverbial pond as I did. I needed to
connect with other leaders who operated companies in the B2B tech sphere. LeTip
helped me begin to get a sense of what networking could do for me and my business,
but I learned an even more important lesson over that year: not all networking
opportunities are equally beneficial to all businesspeople.
Next, I moved on to Business Network International (BNI). Founded in 1985, this group
has an impressive number of members (nearly a quarter million) and over eight
thousand local chapters. I could definitely tell I’d graduated to the next networking level,
and I soon found this organization did a great job of educating its members about how
to use the power of networking to build a personal brand. The group also helped instill in
me the thorough belief that if you can elevate the community members around you,
you’ll have succes in your own right. These are valuable lessons I carry with me in my
professional life to this day.
Again, though, after about a year attending events with roughly fifty other people (and
those seemingly obligatory stale Danishes), I realized my fellow members mostly sold
their products and services to the consumer end user (B2C). After several years
networking in NJ, I felt I had the basics down. I now knew with more conviction than
ever that what I really needed at this stage was to be with people who sold to
corporations (B2B)—people who understood and spent time with business influencers.
That’s when I came to the Executives’ Association of New Jersey (EANJ). EANJ is part
of a parent organization that’s been around since 1935, and I could tell right away I’d
become part of something that was simply a better breed of networking in NJ. The
group was of a caliber I hadn’t encountered before, and while helping fellow members
was, of course, still at its heart, there was a profound and helpful focus on selling to and
working with other B2B corporations. I finally felt I was where I needed to be in order to
elevate my brand and my company’s brand and to work toward my personal
The group puts on over thirty-six events annually, which range from breakfast meetings,
education topics, to fun nighttime activities, and I share my chapter with about fifty other
business professionals. Thanks to the sincerity, quality, and professionalism of those
other people in the room, I’ve enjoyed a high level of professional success, both in
terms of actual business referrals and ongoing education. EANJ’s dedication to
professional education is particularly admirable, and after seeing my fair share of
conference presentations, I can confidently say the quality of their keynote speakers is
truly second to none. During my time in the group, I’ve seen concrete results for my
business, and I’ve consistently grown as an entrepreneur. Yes, EANJ has undoubtedly
helped my business grow and thrive, but perhaps even more importantly, it’s equipped
me with many of the tools necessary to become a better businessperson.
Take it from someone who has spent years working through groups that focus on
networking in NJ: there’s a better option than endless weeks of stale Danishes! I’d
highly recommend EANJ to all people who are looking to take their businesses to the next level.
By Damon Finaldi, Tele-Data Solutions