A Social Life Can Increase Business Success
BY Donna Fenn
For many entrepreneurs, networking consists of reluctantly attending a random meeting or two while for some it is a effortless and natural daily activity. For Roger Abramson, CEO of office-furniture distributor the Atlantic Group, it is a way of life.
Abramson's calendar is filled with appointments he considers potential networking opportunities. Monday night, he's taking a customer to a Broadway show; Tuesday he's invited an architect up at 6 to shoot pool, then it's dinner at 9 with another customer; on Wednesday, he'll go to a United Jewish Appeal charity event with a real estate broker; Thursday there's another dinner with customers; on Friday, he's having a "networking" barbecue for 30 people on the roof of his Upper West Side apartment building. It's a typical schedule for Abramson, who is out nearly every night of the week with customers, real estate agents, architects, or designers. "I call everyone in my network at least once a week and I see them at least once a month," he says, waving a list of 100 contacts.
He also hosts a monthly party where 150 people are invited to network with one another at the company. The pool table, the top-of-the-line sound system, and the well-stocked bar make the place look more like a wealthy bachelor's studio apartment than an office. "He's opened up doors for me to meet people I've ended up doing business with," says Dan Johnson, director of office services at Arista Records and an Atlantic Group customer. "Other companies come into your place, they sell you furniture, and then you don't see them. Roger's bringing people together."
Networking is not only how Abramson keeps himself in everyone's subconscious, but also how he helps other companies do business as quickly and efficiently as he does. "We play matchmaker in all areas," he says. "We've found business for at least 20 of our clients."