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Savvy businesspeople know big challenges can lead to bigger opportunities. With that nexus in mind, Paradigm Marketing & Design, an award-winning web design and digital marketing agency, pivoted quickly when the global pandemic upended the way business networking had been done for decades.

Less than a week after COVID-19 shut down in-person business gatherings in March 2020, Paradigm gave the traditional networking experience a new spin with Table for Four, an online virtual meeting space, now done in partnership with NJBIA, that provides an opportunity to connect with like-minded professionals, expand professional contacts, and forge new relationships that grow businesses.

“We realized we had to do something. One of the channels we were using to build our pipeline was networking, and everybody was getting cut off at the knees because live events were suddenly gone,” recalls Vicki Harte, Paradigm’s director of Client Engagement, who is now also an NJBIA ambassador.

“We were able to put this infrastructure into place quickly,” Harte says. “It was not perfect in the beginning, but it evolved, and it started to grow. We invited NJBIA to partner with us because NJBIA has a huge audience but not our online networking infrastructure.”

Two years later, the COVID-19 pandemic is finally in the rearview mirror, but Table for Four is still going strong, with its 102nd Table for Four virtual meeting set for noon on Nov. 28. And like any hit series, it has inspired spin-offs: the Sales & Marketing Roundtable and later the The Business Growth Roundtable, featuring insightful panel discussions led by business and policy experts on timely topics such as building a self-scaling business, leveraging the LinkedIn platform, and planning for uncertain economic times.

Harte’s enthusiasm and close working relationship with the NJBIA Events Team evolved into her becoming a volunteer NJBIA ambassador who helps businesses new to NJBIA maximize the benefits of membership. Beyond live and virtual networking opportunities, NJBIA benefits also include unparalleled business advocacy in Trenton and a host of money-saving programs, HR support, business development and employee training opportunities exclusively for members.

“It’s wonderful to be able to say, ‘Hi, I’m your ambassador,’ to give them a touchpoint to someone within the organization,” Harte says. “Even though I don’t technically work for the organization, I’m thrilled about all the value that NJBIA provides and that I get to be a brand evangelist.”

Paradigm Founder and President Rachel Durkan is also actively involved in NJBIA through programming for the Women Business Leaders Council and Not-for-Profit Council meetings, Harte says.

“I think about how our relationship began with NJBIA and I really value being an ambassador and having the opportunity to meet people from all over the state,” Harte says. “Anytime that I can bring value to someone who is a member, I’m always glad to be able to do that to help NJBIA sparkle as the gem it is.

“It’s really important to have people in this role who believe in all that NJBIA brings to New Jersey businesses,” Harte adds. “I don’t think that everyone knows the depth of everything that is available to them from NJBIA.  I’m glad that I can help evangelize that, whether it is as an ambassador, or as part of the Not-for-Profit Council, or just by telling other people about NJBIA when I’m out and about.”

As an NJBIA ambassador, Harte mainly works with onboarding new members in central and northwestern New Jersey, but she says she welcomes the opportunity to chat with NJBIA members no matter where they are located. Email her at vharte@Paradigm-MD.com to connect.


Photo Caption: (L-R) NJBIA Ambassador and Director of Client Engagement at Paradigm Marketing and Design (PMD) Vicki Harte; PMD Founder & President Rachel Durkan; and NJBIA Vice President of Strategic Partnerships Kate Conroy.