Ilana Eberson of NYC Business Networking Group: Wishing for a Clone

Ilana EbersonThe problem for many entrepreneurs is that there’s only one of them. Ilana Eberson, founder of The New York City Business Networking Group, wishes she had a clone to help her host the ever-growing number of networking groups she runs:

“I have really become the brand of my own business, which is a double-edged sword.”

Eberson really could use a few copies of herself. She travels to the cities where she’s launched new groups, including Sydney, Australia, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. The Business Networking Group is doing so well, it plans to continue developing branches in the U.S. and Australia during 2012, and over the next five years, Eberson hopes to develop a presence in Southeast Asia, Israel and Europe. It’s this global domination that earned Eberson the title of Small Business Influencer Champion this year.

What’s Worked and What Hasn’t

Eberson may not have enough hours in the day to get it all done, but she strives to be hands-on at all of her events:

“I try to help all our members make great connections, and they realize that I do my best to give them value for working with us, and that I’m helping them make money and be more successful.”

Along her journey, she’s learned a few lessons the hard way. Like many networking group founders, Eberson put her group on Meetup, a mistake she now regrets:

“It has been the biggest hindrance to my business growth and has had more negative impact on my business than anything else in the last four years.”

The spammers, she says, are the downside to using the free meeting site. She has a global website in the works that will bring all the groups under one umbrella, something she wished she had done years ago.

Another lesson Eberson has learned is to value her worth. Her mentor, Inc. Magazine Senior Editor Norm Brodsky, has encouraged her to get paid what she’s worth and understand that, in his words, “if you’re not making money, you’re not in business.”

If she’s not sure what to charge a client, she thinks to herself, “What would Norm say?”

“It’s been a sobering experience to struggle to put a number on the value of what I bring to business,” Eberson relates. “We take many of our own talents for granted, and most people can’t easily put a dollar amount on what we are worth.”

She’s certainly not alone in that!

Ilana Eberson was recognized as a Small Business Influencer Champion for 2011. Read more of our Small Business Influencer Champion interviews.

Susan Payton Susan Payton is the Communications Manager for the Small Business Trends Awards programs. She is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in content marketing, social media management and press releases. She is also the Founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners who want to generate their own PR.