When Agoura Hills resident Elissa Linnick first heard about a business networking group tailored to Jewish people six years ago, she was thrilled. Linnick, a graphic designer who works from home, thought it would be a good way to drum up business and help others do the same.
JNET–“Business Networking for the Jewish Community”–was first launched in 2005 at the former Temple Beth Haverim in Agoura Hills. The member-based group now has over 100 members, including mortgage brokers, attorneys and chefs, in four chapters.
“It’s not super religious. We don’t say prayers or anything like that,” said Linnik, now a board member for the non-profit “Even though it’s a Jewish business network, it’s more about business. We know we’re all part of the same tribe, so it’s nice to support each other.”
The group has goals to expand further into Ventura and Los Angeles Counties and then across the country, said Linnick.
“I believe I’ve given and gotten a lot of business through JNET,” Linnick said. “It’s been so well received and I’m happy about that.
If she needs a plumber or a therapist or someone to sell her home, Linnick said she goes to her rolodex of contacts with JNET first.
When Agoura Hills realtor Susan Stone first heard about JNET three years ago, she was curious and decided to check it out. “I thought it would be interesting to be involved with a Jewish group,” Stone said. “I’ve found it to be wonderful and positive. I’ve met a lot of nice people that I wouldn’t have otherwise met.”
Stone said that she finds JNET mixers to be more intimate than mixers she has attended at the local Chamber of Commerce. “Chamber mixers for me are too loud and impersonal,” Stone said. “I find it a bit on the superficial side. You can’t really have a conversation.”
Stone’s favorite thing to do through JNET is the traditional arrangement known as Troika (Russian for “three of a kind). At each meeting, three members who don’t know each other are grouped together. They are asked to set up a time outside of the JNET meeting to have breakfast or lunch, she said.
“You might go out with them a couple different times and get a chance to talk about their families and hobbies and get a sense of what kind of person they are,” said Stone. “You feel more comfortable doing business with someone you know a little bit about.”
Stone also enjoys the mixers, which occur twice a year; one in the summer, and a Hanukkah-themed mixer in the winter. There are also speakers every month that share business experiences.
According to Linnkick, members don’t have to be affiliated with a temple, and guests can attend a meeting for free before they join for the $65 membership fee. “Once you’re a member of JNET, you are considered a member at any chapter of the organization,” she said.