President’s Message: You Don’t Read the Newsletter? Well, Read This One Article

By Elli Albert

So, what’s the big deal about the NJALA’s business partner sponsors?  My friends, they are a very big deal.

As most chapters of the ALA will attest, business partner sponsors are the lifeline of our organizations.  Our business partner sponsors provide us, among other things, with funding that allows for our monthly meetings.  That includes showcasing high-quality and high-profile speakers (such as this past year’s Managing Partners’ Night speaker, Frank Abagnale), as well as the ability to offer our dinners, social events and educational workshops throughout the year at no additional cost to you.

The reality is that your NJALA dues covers a very small percentage of our annual fees, and we strive each year to keep those dues level.  Much like other non-profit organizations that rely on donations to survive, NJALA relies on income from our business partner sponsorships.  Without our business partner sponsors, to be very candid, there would likely be no NJALA for you to enjoy, in which to network and from which to grow and learn how to be a better law firm administrator.

Let’s talk a moment about the 26th Annual Business Partner Exposition, which is coming up on Tuesday, September 24, 2019 at Mayfair Farms.

Why do some business partners have signs that say they are a “sponsor” of NJALA, and others don’t?  Business partner sponsors are the ones who provide funding each year to help support the NJALA.  They are the ones you see each month at NJALA meetings and socials, and who are listed on our website.

Other business partners, who are not sponsors, buy in to the Expo for that single event.  While we cherish all business partners at the Expo, we like to distinguish between our business partner sponsors and other participating business partners.

You said it’s a “big deal”.  What’s that about?  A common observation from our business partners is that members seem reluctant to engage with them at the Expo.  As I mentioned earlier, without our business partner sponsors, we cannot provide the programs and events that we hold each year.  Without the additional participating business partners, we have no Expo.  Without the business partner sponsors and the Expo, we effectively have no NJALA.  So, yes, this is a big deal! 

How can we bridge the gap between members attending the Expo—our biggest fundraiser of the year—and business partners feeling that they are getting value from aligning with the NJALA, either as business partner sponsors or participating business partners at the Expo?

Business partners are regular people, too.  Each business partner is just like you and me.  They work for a living.  They have families.  They have good times and bad times, successes and failures.  The only difference between “them” and “us” is that they have a product or service to sell.  Over the years, I have gotten to know many business partners, and I like to visit them just because they are nice people and I enjoy their company!

How can I comfortably engage at the Expo with business partners?  Remember what I just said in the paragraph above.  It’s simple to stop at an Expo booth and listen for thirty seconds to a business partner’s elevator pitch.  If you aren’t a decision maker for your law firm, give them the appropriate contact person’s name.  If you don’t have a need for their product or service, tell them that, but listen anyway!  You never know when someone from a fellow law firm is going to ask about a product or service, and you may remember a business partner who you met at our Expo.

Our business partners just want a sixty-second conversation to gauge your interest.  We want you to enjoy your networking time with friends and colleagues at the Expo but spend the sixty seconds with our business partners and thank them for supporting the NJALA.  If you have a need for a product or service, you may just find a solution at the Expo.

But what do I do when they contact me later?  We have suggested to NJALA business partner sponsors that they should identify themselves as such when they call or e-mail you.  Please take their telephone call or read their e-mail.  Just like at the Expo, it does not hurt to thank them for their support, and to advise of your law firm’s situation (a different decision maker or when you plan to review the same product or service in the future). 

It’s that easy.  Our business partners matter a great deal to the NJALA.  Please help us help you keep current through our extensive programming, featuring the latest education, as well as the products and services that keep our law firms going day in and day out.

See you at the Expo!

Elli Albert is the Office Administrator of the Morristown, New Jersey office of Fox Rothschild LLP.

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