At the Boca Raton Synagogue in Florida, an active networking program has helped members make connections and pivot their businesses to stay relevant during the pandemic.
“We provided an outlet for people in the business world to talk through the challenges they faced as a result of Covid-19,” says Marc Bienenfeld, who co-founded the Boca Raton Synagogue Networking Group with Gila Stern in 2019. “Many issues spanned different types of businesses, from safe reopening to applying for PPP. We served as a resource for each other.”
One of the group’s fifty members had a storefront food business that suffered at the beginning of the pandemic. The networking group helped her brainstorm new ideas and shift the focus of her business—branching out to corporate catering and creating single-serving packages as gifts or for bar/bat mitzvah grab n’ go boxes. “Our group made connections for her,” says Bienenfeld. “Her business is now thriving.”
For locally owned businesses, new clients and sales are so often based on networking and word-of-mouth, Bienenfeld explains. When people were staying home, those opportunities dried up. “A group like ours helped get the word out for local businesses during a challenging time,” says Stern. “People have shown they are more than happy to support their neighbors.”