OyChicago articles

Fight like the IDF without leaving Chicagoland

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Fight like the IDF without leaving Chicagoland photo

Kim Mor and Sue Garstki of Krav Maga Illinois

Kimberly Mor and Sue Garstki, the owners of Krav Maga Illinois, in Highland Park, are giving new meaning to the phrase “get home safe.”

Their school is the first of its kind on the North Shore licensed to teach Krav Maga—the official self-defense system of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF)—through the official Krav Maga Worldwide training center and the Ministry of Education in Israel. Their doors opened in October of 2009, offering courses in what they call the most efficient and realistic form of self defense, Krav Maga, for adults children and families, as well as boxing, kickboxing and jujitsu, to about 220 members.

“No matter where you go in the world (the Torah) is exactly the same,” says Mor. If there is a mistake in the Torah, then that isn’t considered a Kosher Torah. That’s one of the other things that really pulled me toward Krav Maga was that I knew that it was really from the source, it was the absolute truth when it came to self defense.”

This weekend, Feb. 27 and 28, Krav Maga Illinois is hosting Darren Levine, the U.S. chief instructor of Krav Maga. Levine, who trained with Imi Lichtenfeld the creator of Krav Maga, brought the self-defense practice to the U.S.  According to Garstki, the IDF is still using Lichtenfeld’s original book of combat, and because they are licensed by Krav Maga Worldwide, Mor and Garstki are teaching the original, traditional Krav Maga. On March 7, Mor and Garstki will host the mayor of Tel Aviv, Ron Huldai, giving their students and members an exclusive chance to see another side of Israel.

Mor—a Highland Park resident and one of the owners of Garden Fresh Markets—describes her first meeting with Garstki as beshert.

“Sue and I met very coincidentally at a SHALVA fundraiser where she was teaching a very small self-defense class,” Mor said. “I’ve always wanted to advocate for women who are victims of domestic violence and I met Sue and I knew I met a diamond because she has the personality to work with a giant or a child—she gets along with everybody.”

Combining Garstki’s expertise in Krav Maga and Mor’s connection to Israel—one of her children lives in Israel and her husband served in the IDF—they decided to open up the school together.

“It was sort of like fate brought us together,” Mor said. “We opened October 1 and with a wish and a prayer and all of our experience together we’ve created a thriving business.”

Mor and Garstki say they have members from all walks of life: homemakers, firemen, police officers, children and even some clients that are in their 70s. They say fitness is just a byproduct of Krav Maga, and that it is accessible to everyone, no matter what their athletic ability. It is as much about emotional fitness as it is about physical fitness.

“Many attackers know who to victimize…but once you become empowered in this, you walk a little different, you hold yourself a little different, you’re much smarter and you don’t become a target as easily as someone else,” Mor said. She said most altercations last about 30 seconds, so they train their members accordingly.

“We give everyone the right to defend themselves,” Garstki said. “We give them the tools, so it’s kind of like life insurance. Without self-defense training, we have no awareness; we have no idea about the things that can happen to us.”

They say many of their students come to Krav Maga not only for self-defense, but also to feel a connection to their family in Israel, although they say Krav Maga is not just for Jews. In fact, a majority of their students are not Jewish.

“Everybody feels a connection to the soldiers, whether they are Jewish or not,” Mor said. “Soldiers and their fighting spirit, we really teach fighting spirit here.”

Garstki, who is certified through Krav Maga worldwide, a Haganah instructor and a second degree black belt in Karate, has been teaching martial arts for 20 years. Though she is not Jewish, she discovered Krav Maga and fell in love with the practice.

“I do not have a Jewish background, which I think says a lot for Krav Maga,” she said. “I’m not coming from Israel and I’m not Jewish, yet I believe that the army is so strong and so prepared that I’m willing to practice this every day of my life. I love it. I think that’s a testament to how powerful Krav Maga is.”

To sign up for this weekend’s seminar or for more info, visit the Krav Maga Illinois website.

Local Jewish teens rock out for Darfur

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Local Jewish teens rock out for Darfur photo

Spencer (center) on the drums with his band the Blisters
at the Feb. 14 Rock ‘n’ Raise for Darfur concert

A few months back, Oy!Chicago shared the stories of two local teens making a difference in Chicago’s Jewish Community. Spencer Tweedy, a 14-year-old blogger and musician, and Ethan Barhydt, a 19-year-old Darfur activist, were both highlighted this summer in JVibe magazine’s first-ever “18 under 18” awards honoring extraordinary teens. Since then, Ethan and Spencer have joined forces and combined their talents to make a difference in their community.

“When I had read about Spencer being a great drummer and having a blog, really reaching out to the Chicago community, I was thinking with the activism that I’ve done and the music that he does we could really create a powerful campaign around music and philanthropy, and combine those two elements to engage more students in the Chicago area,” Ethan said.

So they connected through Facebook, and got together to organize Rock ‘n’ Raise for Darfur, a month-long campaign throughout February combining music and philanthropy to raise funds for Darfuri refugee children living without access to quality education. The campaign, an initiative of Youth United for Darfur (YUFD)— a Chicago-based student coalition founded by Barhydt—is hoping to raise $50,000, about enough to fund an entire school in a Darfuri refugee camp through the Darfur Dream Team’s Sister Schools program.

For their main event, Ethan and Spencer organized the Rock ‘n’ Raise for Darfur concert, which raised $3,200 toward the campaign. On Feb. 14, more than 400 people came to hear Spencer’s band, the Blisters, along with several other Chicago rock groups including Madina Lake, Brendan Kelly and Big Science at the Metro in Chicago. The concert, hosted by YUFD, was also supported by the Enough Project, Metro, American Jewish World Service, Amnesty International, the Save Darfur Coalition and JVibe.

“It was really, really fun,” Spencer said. “My band played and it was just a great time. I think people really enjoyed the music as well as having the chance to help out in Darfur.” According to Ethan, Spencer’s drum solo was a big hit that evening.

Another local Jewish teen, Morgan Sendor, a student at Glenbrook South High School and the current leader of YUFD, has been a major force in organizing the Rock 'n' Raise for Darfur campaign.  She has mobilized youth across the city and helped coordinate many of the logistics of the concert. In addition to the main event, students at over 30 participating schools held fundraisers of their own, hosting bake sales, talent shows and open mike nights.

A second event, called Education for a Generation, a special reception for the Darfur Dream Team, will be held at the Union League Club in Chicago this Thursday, Feb. 25. The event, co-hosted by the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center and the Enough Project, will feature Luol Deng, a Chicago Bulls star and native of Sudan, John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project, Rick Hirschhaut, Illinois Holocaust Museum executive director, and Lonnie Nasatir, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League. Tickets and more information is available on the Darfur Dream Team website.

As of today, the Rock ‘n’ Raise campaign has raised $9,500. “Many of the groups have had to delay fundraising due to other fundraising for Haiti, etc.,” Ethan said. “So, we will be extending the campaign into March and even potentially April.  But $50,000 is still our goal.”

So what’s next for these two teens?

“If Ethan has anymore awesome ideas like this in mind, I’m sure whatever he comes up with I’d be glad to help,” said Spencer. “I definitely think using the things we specialize in together is just an awesome way to connect us to people living a crisis, like the Darfuri refugees.”

Growing nonprofits

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As two young Jewish women working in partnership to navigate our way through careers in the Jewish community, we were so excited to meet Amy Schiffman and Stefanie Pessis Weil, two young moms, and business partners, working in the Jewish nonprofit world, and wanted to share their story with the Oy!Chicago community:

Growing nonprofits photo

Stefanie Pessis Weil (left) and Amy Schiffman (right)

When Amy and Stefanie met 10 years ago, they immediately clicked—forming a partnership and friendship that was clearly beshert.

It was then when Stefanie got a job with the Jewish Council for Youth Services, where Amy was working as the director of development. From there they went on to work together at Ida Crown Jewish Academy in Skokie until in early 2008, when they decided to go off on their own.

“We started joking around that one day we were going to go into business together,” Stefanie says. “We would always get phone calls from nonprofits saying, ‘can you give us advice on this or give us advice on that.’ One day we looked at each other and said, let’s do this.”

Amy, of Wilmette, and Stefanie, of Highland Park, wanted to find a way to balance their lives—finding time to have their careers and be there when their kids get home from school. Utilizing their backgrounds in social work and Jewish communal service and a combined 30 years of nonprofit experience, Amy and Stefanie founded Giving Tree Associates—a full-service consulting firm for nonprofit organizations, which much like its name, has grown from the ground up.

Thanks to their connections in the Jewish community, within just a few months of deciding to go off on their own the word had spread and they already had four clients.

“It’s really true that when you open your mind to something, then the opportunity comes knocking,” Amy says.

Since they first incorporated in February of 2008, they have worked with about 20 clients—both Jewish and non-Jewish organizations—including Chicago Jewish Day School, Beber Camp in Wisconsin, Imagination Theater and even Sigma Alpha Mu Fraternity. They have since hired several other young female consultants—two of which they discovered at the JUF Job Fair last June—and are currently looking to expand their staff.

Though Giving Tree Associates works with organizations of all sizes and sectors, they say they are most valuable to organizations with very few or non-existent development resources. Most clients have small to mid-size budgets, meaning under $6 million. Services include campaign management, event management, grant writing and research, strategic campaign planning and organizational development.

“In this economy, what organizations, and especially small nonprofits, are struggling with is [in the past] we could get by on earned revenue alone before with a little bit of fundraising and now we just can’t…suddenly we have to fundraise to the tune of 100,000 a year, so how do we do that?” Amy says.

According to Stefanie, Giving Tree Associates distinguishes itself from other consulting firms by using a really hands-on approach.

“The way we’re unique from most large scale consulting firms, is that we don’t just go in there and assess a situation and say here’s your plan, now execute it,” Stefanie says. “We actually hand-hold our clients…We’re teaching them how to fish.”

Before they even take on a client, Amy says, they must have an understanding that both the professionals and volunteers of the organization are dedicated to the cause.

“We are definitely not the least expensive game in town and that’s because we pour our heart and soul into every project that we have,” she says. “We really haven’t had a client yet who hasn’t been really satisfied. Generally we take the time to really get to know [each organization].”

As we wrapped up our interview, Stefanie and Amy realized Giving Tree Associates had something big to celebrate this month. “We are at our 2 year anniversary!” Stefanie says. “We made it through, we seem to be thriving and it’s really exciting.”

Next year in Jerusalem? Why wait?

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Next year in Jerusalem? Why wait? photo

Sharna on the Jilabun Hike

The other night I was out and someone said to me, “Hey, you’re the Birthright girl.” So I started talking to him and it turns out he went on a Shorashim trip a couple of years ago. His friend though, hadn’t participated yet. I asked him if he was applying for this summer and he said, “No, this isn’t a good time for me. I need to do an internship and take some classes.”

I’m not someone who is great about hard selling anyone to do anything, but I hear this all the time: “It’s just not a good time for me to go to Israel.”

And I guess there are good times and better times and worse times to do things, but I worry that we are so programmed and sometimes struggle to jump on an unplanned opportunity because it doesn’t fit into our life’s itinerary.

Another friend who is 28 and went on a Birthright trip wanted me to take his 27-year-old wife, even though she is no longer eligible. I asked him if she had applied before and been waitlisted. He said, no, she had just been busy being at the top of her law school class, working in corporations, etc.

Her success is enviable, but I doubt it would have been hampered by a 10-day hiatus. He was super annoyed when I told him I couldn’t get her on a trip. She had opportunities twice a year from the age of 18-26 to apply. But, he argued: It was a never a good time.

Perhaps my upbringing has led me to believe that now is really the best time to take an advantage of an opportunity. I think of my aunt who suffers from severe Multiple Sclerosis—she used to love to travel, and no longer can. She used to be a social butterfly, but now barely leaves her house. Because her cognitive abilities are affected, we have the same conversation every time I see her.

“When is the next time you are going to Israel?”

“In May, Aunt Sharon.”

“I’ve never been to Israel, but I’ve been all over Europe, South Africa and many other places.”

If she had her health, she’d go to Israel. She would love to see our cousins, Jerusalem and she would definitely love all the shuks.

I’m not saying go to Israel because one day you might get a debilitating neurological disease—just don’t wait for the perfect time, because in life, there rarely are perfect times. Sometimes, you just have to take a risk and know that it will work out.

Next year in Jerusalem? Why wait? photo 2

Registration for Taglit-Birthright Israel: Shorashim trips opens at http://israelwithisraelis Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 11 a.m. for previous applicants and on Wednesday, Feb. 17 for new registrants.

I hope to see you in Israel this summer—be sure to interrupt me when I’m on my cell phone talking in terribly accented Hebrew to say hello and introduce yourself.

JUF Love stories

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Three couples share their tales of finding love in Jewish places 

You might already know that getting involved in JUF-sponsored programs and activities is a great way to give back, volunteer and get connected to Chicago’s Jewish community—but did you know these programs are also great places to find love? I know from firsthand experience—my fiancé Mike and I met while both working at JUF. Here are three couples—one dating, one engaged and one married—who met their besherts (destined) while participating in three different JUF-sponsored programs.

Amy and Scott—our dating couple

JUF Love stories photo 1

Amy Leff and Scott Schiff met about five years ago at Yad B’Yad, a volunteer program bringing together Jewish young adults with developmental and learning disabilities who live independently or with minimal support and Jewish young adult volunteers for social, cultural and religious activities. Bringing together the resources of The Hillels of Illinois and Jewish Child and Family Services, Yad B’Yad provides monthly activities for participants and volunteers.

Scott was referred to the program by his stepfather and Amy was encouraged to attend by a co-worker. When they first met in December of 2004, they learned they had been living in the same building for three or four years and had never run into each other.

“One day it came up that Amy needed a ride home,” Scott said—they’ve been inseparable ever since.

“At first I was scared,” Scott said. “She is my first real girlfriend.” Because he has Asperger’s Syndrome, Scott said it is often difficult for him to make friends and meet new people. “It felt really good because women had never pursued me before,” he said. “It was obviously destiny.”

Amy, 35, who is from Homewood Flossmoor, works in a therapy practice that specializes in children with learning disabilities and Scott, 36, originally of Highland Park works two jobs—in an optometrist’s office and at Jewel.

When they’re not working, Amy said the couple spends most of their time together, grocery shopping, cooking dinner or spending holidays with friends and family. They still attend Yad B’Yad programs as often as they can. 

Jason and Caroline—our engaged couple

JUF Love stories photo 2

Jason Chess and Caroline Friduss met in the summer of 2008 at the first Oy!Chicago get-together at a bar in Lakeview. Caroline was there to support a friend involved in the website and Jason was there to find a nice Jewish girl.

“I went up to a group of five girls and I started talking to the one I had noticed from across the room, Caroline,” Jason said. “I called her three days later, asked her out and the rest is history!”

Caroline remembers talking to Jason for a long time at the bar and realizing just how much they had in common. “I was so excited when he asked for my number that I called my parents the next day to tell them about him. My parents were in Israel at the time and they told their entire bus about it. Maybe it was beshert, maybe my parents being in Israel gave me good mazel (luck).”

Jason, 30, grew up in the suburbs of Detroit and moved to Chicago two years ago where he works as a business banker for National City/PNC. Caroline, 25, is originally from Highland Park and now works as a registered dietitian at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Jason proposed this past Chanukah by creating his own episode of their favorite television show “How I Met Your Mother.” Jason created a video telling the story of their relationship, including scenes from where they first met at the Oy!Chicago party, their first date and other memorable moments from their relationship leading up to the proposal. They will be married in Chicago this September.

Their advice to Jewish singles out there? 

“Stop looking,” Caroline said. “When you stop looking for your beshert, it will happen.”

“Be involved in JUF, YLD, and other Jewish organizations. Be open to meeting new kinds of people,” Jason said. “We would like to thank Oy!Chicago and JUF for introducing us. It’s amazing how much this organization has done for us and we’re happy to volunteer and stay involved.”

Anne and Marc—our married couple

JUF Love stories photo 3

Anne Gardner Alexander and Marc Alexander met at LEADS—a program of JUF’s Young Leadership Division designed to acquaint young adults to Chicago’s Jewish community—in November of 2008. The couple was married November 15, 2009, just one year and three days later.

Anne, 36, a lawyer originally from Columbia, Missouri, had just moved to Chicago when LEADS started and was looking for a way to become involved in the community. Marc, 30, who works in corporate training and sales and is originally from Northbrook, joined the program on a friend’s suggestion that LEADS was a great place to meet girls.

“We met at a LEADS happy hour following an event,” Anne said. “We were in different LEADS groups and I was sitting chatting with a new friend from my group. Marc introduced himself and the three of us talked for the rest of the evening. We all exchanged phone numbers and the next day Marc texted me and suggested we hang out the following night.”

Anne said she didn’t take the relationship too seriously at first, because she thought Marc was too young to settle down.

“Because I did not take it as seriously, I was a lot more comfortable just being myself, which ended up being the best thing,” Anne said. “My focus with Marc wasn’t on determining if he was ‘the one’—I just enjoyed the time we were together. Of course, I know [now] I’ve found my beshert!”

“I knew I really liked Anne when I was driving to her condo just to walk her dog or picking up her groceries, or taking care of her when she was sick,” Marc said. “I knew I really loved her when I realized she was doing just as much to support me. The best parts of our week were the times we spent together. I knew she was the one when I realized that she had become my best friend.”

Marc proposed five-and-a-half months after they met, in May of 2008, and in November of 2009, they had a beautiful beach wedding in Longboat Key, Florida.

Anne and Marc offered these words of advice to singles: “Keep an open mind. Try to not have too many ‘deal killers,’ Anne said. “Get out there and meet people in person—we never would have met any other way.”

“Due to our difference in age, Anne fell outside my criteria in JDate, meaning that she never would have showed up in my JDate search,” Marc said. “Definitely keep an open mind. Don’t be scared to meet new people. Just get out there and do it and be friendly. That’s the only way that you might, by chance, stumble across that person who you want to share the rest of your life with.”

The Great Rabbino gets the inside scoop from figure skater Tamar Katz

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Tamar Katz photo 1

If you are alive, Jewish, and into sports you should know about figure skater Tamar Katz and the Israeli Olympic Committee’s ruling not to send her to the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver. Her story has been covered by major news outlets including The New York Times and The Jewish Week. I am someone who is basically pro-Israel in every way, but I think Israel got it wrong on this one. We need these athletes to show the world that there is more than conflict going on in the Holy Land, and I think the Olympics are a perfect platform for that. I recently had a chance to chat with the Israeli skater to get the inside scoop—Jewish sports journalism at its best.

Jeremy Fine: How long have you been skating? Where did you get your start?
Tamar Katz: I was eight years old when we moved to Washington D.C. and I began skating when I was 10. We were there until I was 13. When we returned to Israel it was hard to continue skating. There is only one real ice rink in Israel. So, my family and I relocated from Zichron Yaacov to be closer to the rink in Mitulah. It was still difficult to train because it’s not a great rink and it is shared with the hockey players, free skate, and other events. It was even closed once or twice due to Hezbollah. So, at 15 I moved to New Jersey to pursue my dream. My mother came to live with me for a while. I then moved in with Sally Wittmore, a wonderful woman who is also a Holocaust survivor. Eventually, I moved to Monsey, NY and began training with my coach, Peter Burrows. The community around me has been very supportive.

Could you have tried to represent the US in the 2010 Olympics?
Well, I have both American and Israeli citizenship. I learned English when I was eight years old. But I will always represent Israel. First, I am Israeli, then I am Jewish, then I am American.

Tamar, you have been in the news a lot recently, what exactly happened?
I qualified for the Winter Olympics to represent Israel. We had three spots in the Winter Olympics. I was the first person to represent Israel in figure skating. But my spot was taken away by (the Olympic Committee in) Israel. (The committee) has a rule that you must place within the top 12 in the European Championships (to compete in the Olympics). During the European Championships I had a viral infection. I shouldn't have competed, but I did anyway because it was my dream to represent my country. Unfortunately, I finished 21st. But in September 2009, I qualified for the Olympics at the Nebelhorn Trophy, Olympic Qualifying Competition. There, I finished seventh.

Tamar Katz photo 2
Why won't Israel let you compete?
Israel has an internal standard (not that of the Olympic games). I must finish in the top 12 to 14 at the European Championships. Israel has said several times that they do not want to send "tourists" to the Olympic games. They want to send people who will bring back medals. Well, I was not intending on going as a tourist and while I might not have won a medal, I think it is important for the world to see Israel compete. That is how a sport grows, through exposure.

What are you doing now?
My battle is over. Israel decided to (give) the spot I got to Australia. So, now I am trying to advocate for future Israeli athletes who want to participate in the Olympic Games. I started a Facebook group that has over 1,700 members to raise awareness. Also, my story has been picked up by many Jewish outlets.

Did the Facebook group work?
It definitely gets the word out there. Israel has never won a medal in the winter games. But I do not think it should just be about medals. This was my dream and many other will have the same dream.  I don't want this to happen to someone else.

So now that 2010 is unfortunately not going to be a reality, do you plan on trying again for the 2014 Olympic Games?
This is still very hard for me. I am still very upset now. I need some time to think about it. But I am definitely not ruling it out.

We are a Jewish blog, so I was wondering what your Jewish life is like?
Being Jewish is important part to who I am. For the 2006 Olympics there was a qualifier on Yom Kippur. I did not participate. It wasn't even a thought. Yom Kippur is a holy day.

So what is next for Tamar Katz?
I am going to compete at the World Championship in March in Italy. There will be the same competitors as the Olympics but actually more competition. Hopefully, I will do well there and prove something to everyone.

Is there anything else you would like to say?
I've had incredibly support from Boris Chait and the Israeli Ice Skating Federation who fought until the last minute so that I wouldn’t have to give up my spot.

Comment below to let me know what you think about Tamar's story.
And Let Us Say...Amen.

Learn more about Tamar at  www.tamarkatz.com . For more from Jeremy, check out  www.thegreatrabbino.com .

2010 the Year for Netw-OY-rking Part II

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2010 the New Year for Netw-OY-rking! photo

Last month I posted an article on Oy! that convinced you that Networking is essential to a young professional’s career.  Hopefully, it left you hungry for more details on how exactly you go about building a network.  Think of this article as Networking 201.  (If you are not already open to the idea of networking, I suggest you go back and read last month’s installment before going forward.)

4 Steps to building your network:

1. Throw Out the Net and Capture Contacts.

If you love to work the crowd, try out some of the larger networking events all around Chicago.  Just make smart use of your time.  It’s better to spend time having a meaningful conversation with 4 or 5 people than trying to attempt to meet everyone.  This way you walk away with 1 or 2 people you know you can follow up with after the event, instead of just 200 business cards.

If the big events intimidate you, it is completely fine to E-mail or call a few friends and family members to say “Hi, I’m looking to build my professional network and I was wondering if anyone knew anyone they can connect me too in the BLANK industry.”  Big warning for job seekers, do not, I repeat DO NOT ask for jobs this way because that is not the purpose of this step.  If you throw out anything in the message about needing a job or looking for a job, you will rarely be successful at building a network or getting a job.

Professional networking websites, such as LinkedIn.com have proven to be another great way to make new connections.  Start by setting up your account and connecting to those you know.  Once you are connected to someone you have access to view all of their connections.  This allows you to potentially connect with many people to whom you previously did not know you had access.

2. Make the Net Work and Contact Your Contacts

E-mail or call your potential networking contacts.  The goal is to set up a face-to-face, one-on-one meeting with your contact.  This may seem strange or unusual, but people are more open to this than you think, if you ask the right way:

“Hi Jon, it was great to meet you at the Young Professionals event last Tuesday.  I would love to buy you a cup of coffee and learn more about the work you do.  Do you have a free 20 minutes this Tuesday or Wednesday to meet?” 

“Hi Sharon, I am friends with Jill Meyers and she thought we should connect.  I recently finished my Masters in Social Work at U of C and am looking to meet more professionals in the Social Services.  I would love to buy you a cup of coffee and hear more about your Career Path at CJE Senior Life.  I am hoping to be more informed about the industry as I interview for jobs.    Do you have a free 20 minutes this Tuesday or Wednesday to meet?” 

Notice how this approach offers the two things people love most—  a free cup of coffee and a chance to talk about themselves.  Also notice how it doesn’t mention anything about getting a job.  That is a sure way to get a sure “No, thank you.”  People can easily offer you time and advice, but jobs are not something people carry around in their back pockets in case someone wants to buy them coffee.

3. Make a Profit on the Catch With Informational Interviews

Once you get the appointment, prepare for an informational interview.  Prepare like you might for a real interview.   Research this person and where they work.  Prepare questions about their work history.  Show up early and dress to make an impression.   Bring a copy of your resume, but only offer to share it if asked.  Offer to buy the coffee.

As you start networking with more and more successful people you start to pick up on patterns.  You start to figure out what you might need to do to also find success in your field.  This could be success as a job seeker in landing a job in a certain field or success as a career professional in a certain industry.

After the time allotted for the meeting (usually around 20 or 30 minutes) always remember to ask two questions. 

a. “How can I help you?”  Your new networking contact will appreciate that you made this meeting about also helping him or her.

b. “Who do you know that I might also want to talk with to learn more about this?”  If they can connect you to even one person that is all you need to keep the network growing.

4.  Maintain Your Network  

First and foremost, send a thank you note to this person within 24 hours of your meeting.  It can be an e-mail, but many people will appreciate the personal touch of a handwritten card.

Periodically, you will want to reach out to your network.  Some people feel strongly that this should be done with individual e-mails or phone calls.  Others suggest that sending a mass e-mail update, bcc of course, is just fine.  The important thing is to do something.  Unless the person is going to be helping you out regularly as a partner or mentor once or twice a year is plenty.  Just enough to let them know you are still out there and open to keeping them in your network. 

Once you get your network going it is a good idea to have a place to go to create opportunities for new contacts.  Joining an association, chamber of commerce or even a synagogue, are all great avenues for this.  Many professional associations and Chicago chambers have young professional divisions.  Synagogues are particularly great places for networking because of the large number of events and congregants they have.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be related to your field.  Maybe you like skiing, so you join an association for Chicago skiers.  Volunteering for a cause that excites you is also a great way to do something you love and continue to meet new people. 

Final Thoughts:

We use networks for all sorts of reasons.  The mistake a lot of people make is that they look for the immediate gratification.  They think that one meeting will result in a job offer or a $100,000 business deal.  If you are out for the quick gain, networking may disappoint you.  Instead, you should realize that the point is to get face time with as many people as possible and leave a positive and lasting impression.  That way the next time someone approaches someone in your network to ask “Who do you know that can do X, Y, or Z?”  They can respond, “I happen to know someone that is perfect for that job.”  That is when you know your network is working.

Looking for a networking event to attend?  Join us at "Networking with Purpose: to Build Relationships, Influence Others and Grow Professionally" presented by Stacey Hanke.  See yourself as others see you. Consciously and deliberately communicate in a way that influences others to take action, Network with a purpose and gain the courage to do so.  Held at the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, 30 S. Wells, Chicago, on February 24 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.  Free admission, networking and refreshments. Id required. RSVP by February 19 (312) 673-3437 or  jvsccp@jvschicago.org .

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