"Many Voices, One Community" The Networking Empire of Cesar Plata and infoBayArea.com
Written by Jan Altman, Edited by Cesar Plata
Article published on 10/15/06 on www.thenationalnetworker.com
The National Networker publishes a monthly newsletter devoted to networking topics.
If anyone at all could be called a clearinghouse for networking in the San Francisco Bay Area, I'd vote for Cesar Plata and his website infoBayArea.com, hands down! He's even been called "the Craig's List for business owners and professionals." Around here, that's a compliment worth more than a lifetime pass across the high-priced Golden Gate Bridge.
In his previous life as a mechanical engineer, Cesar enjoyed attending networking and community events. By 1996, he was quite active in the Latino professional community, and began emailing others about local happenings and community resources. His email list quickly grew.
When Cesar changed careers in 1998, he pursued his dream of becoming an entrepreneur. He designed an online service for business owners and professionals to network online and offline. His first advertiser signed up "within 30 seconds" at a marketing conference, and he has never looked back. (I should note that same client still advertises him now on his 8th anniversary, and plans to do so for life.)
Cesar held his very first event in 1999, and brought in more than 60 people. His website, www.MuyBueno.net, was oficially launched in January of 2000 at a large event held at The Tech Museum (a major landmark in San Jose). Cesar's habit of booking large museums and 4-diamond hotels, and drawing 100s of people at his events made him stand out from other networking groups. Although he initially focused on reaching out to Latino professionals, word got out and the diversity of his audience expanded. His weekly newsletter distribution list has grown to well over 12,000 and his website also receives top ranking for many keywords on major search engines. InfoBayArea.com and Cesar Plata also receive great media exposure – he has been featured numerous times on local and national media, and even in 2 books! He is also very grateful for the word-of-mouth exposure he gets from people who utilize his website and attend his events.
A few years ago Cesar snatched up the domain infoBayArea.com (way to go, guy!). Cesar and his business partner continually upgrade the website, and have established a veritable clearinghouse for both online and offline networking throughout the Bay Area.
Online networkers are treated to a wonderful assortment of resources:
• Business/networking mixers and seminars www.infobayarea.com/mixers hosted by info BayArea.com at major locations throughout Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area.
• A comprehensive event calendar www.infobayarea.com/infocalendar, listing events hosted by many dozens of organizations
• A business directory www.infobayarea.com/bizbridge, with full-page advertisements
• Job postings www.infobayarea.com/jobpro, including jobs for bilingual professionals
• Discounts and special offers www.infobayarea.com/bizbridge/discounts
• Volunteer opportunities www.infobayarea.com/articles/links/volunteer.html
• Articles and links www.infobayarea.com/articles on everything from professional development and networking, entrepreneurism, to humor, relationships, and even recipes
Off-line networkers can fill up their calendars well into 2007. I asked Cesar what differentiates his website and events from others. He described that he believes in providing a personal touch to his business – his contact info is available online, and he is readily available to speak and provide referrals for potential clients. His events have a unique type of atmosphere. Business owners and professionals network and socialize with each other in friendly, fun, upscale, business-casual environments. They feel quite comfortable to approach each other (best business is personal business) and rarely is anyone ever standing alone. His business/networking mixers usually involve many caterers, chocolate, wine and tequila tasting, art shows, toy drives, bone marrow drives, live music, ballroom dance lessons, sponsors and non-profit organizations, and incredible prizes donated by guests for the free raffles, to name a few.
The book Top 10 Traits of Silicon Valley Dynamos states, "Cesar Plata is blazing trails in helping people connect with each other.... Cesar has developed an amazing network that informs and helps unite thousands...." His long-term vision is to develop an informed network of professionals and business owners throughout the United States. And we here at The National NetWorker think that's just pretty darn cool.
If you would like to get on Cesar's mailing list, or simply learn more about his recipe for networking success, visit < http://www.infobayarea.com > and contact him at 408 272-4772 or firstname.lastname@example.org . He also welcomes any interest you may have in developing similar businesses in your own area.
Thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to read me on The National NetWorker! Please let us know if an article that you've read here today has helped you in any way.
Jan Altman, Entrepreneurial Editor
With experience in business development, business strategy, public relations, marketing, training and education, resource management, computer programming, and of course networking, Jan Altman is now the Vice President of Business Development for DrivAd, Inc., based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
After several years at Hewlett-Packard in the area of training development for field sales, Jan branched out on her own as a business development specialist.
During this time, she assisted companies nationwide in helping them streamline their business practices. Her work has included such responsibilities as:
• Business development, strategy and public relations: Jan has consulted in varied corporate departments, such as Human Resources, Public Relations, Project Planning, and Administration.
• Training and education: Jan has conducted classes, seminars, and brown-bags on the most effective ways to utilize business software, resulting in countless hours saved for her client companies. On two occasions, she was asked to be an instructor for an international business networking conference.
• Programming and database design: As the very first Microsoft Certified Excel Trainer in the San Francisco Bay Area, Jan helped companies set up systems to track and manage their data. To this day, she is still sought after for her skills in programming.
• Writing: Jan has authored a couple of books, and has written columns in local trade publications.
A partial list of client companies who have hired Jan:
• 3-Com Corporation
• Amdahl Corporation
• Guidant Corporation
• Hillsborough City School District
• IDG Books
• Intel Corporation
• Lockheed Missiles and Space
• National Semiconductor
• Oral-B Labs
• Portola Valley School District
• Siemens Rolm
• Stanford University
• The Nature Conservancy
• The San Francisco Forty-Niners
• The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
• Transamerica Corporation
Jan was also the founder of Palo Alto Remembers, a drive within the city of Palo Alto, California to promote local volunteerism in commemoration of the September 11th anniversaries in 2003 and 2004.
Jan's interests include kids, mountains, movies, games, live theater, San Francisco, kids, singing, piano, magic, kids, and being with her friends. Did we say kids? And kids.
Her greatest goal in life is to travel through time.