Shalom Klein

TribLocal: Shalom Klein, Networking Maven

Shalom Klein4/6/2011 – Talking to Shalom Klein might catapult a job seeker into a nirvana where job layoffs are nonexistent, work opportunities abound, and the word “recession” is not in the English vocabulary.
At 22, Klein works diligently to turn his utopian vision for the business world into a reality for thousands of job hunters. His efforts have already led to dozens of formerly unemployed Chicagoans finding jobs over the past year! His venues also provide renewed hope to hundreds of other jobseekers.
Klein wears two hats. Not only does he serve as the business director for his family’s Skokie bookkeeping and accounting firm, MK & A Ltd., which helps small businesses with bookkeeping and accounting, and taxes, but he also serves as Chairman of Jewish B2BNetworking, an organization he founded less than a year ago. Klein doesn’t pocket one penny for his services. He uses any income from these ventures merely to cover costs.
Despite the Jewish Business2Business Networking name, the events are nonsectarian, and open to all.
The idea for these networking events occurred to Klein after he arranged a luncheon at “Slice of Life, “ a kosher restaurant in Skokie. His goal was to introduce a relatively small number of people to the family firm. Although approximately 20 were invited, 70 attended. Adding to his surprise, the group immediately and spontaneously began networking.
Reflecting on the luncheon, Klein said, “It didn’t take long to realize that all it takes to help a job-seeker land an interview is a connection.”
That realization eventually led him to launch “Jewish B2B Networking, now firmly established in Chicago, but also in St. Louis and Detroit.
Klein’s efforts have snowballed, starting with a variety of networking events. After a networking event held at the Evanston Public Library held two days before Christmas, he quickly learned to prepare for a large attendance. Although the event was anticipated to draw about 70 people, it amazed Klein that more than 100 appeared.
Other networking events are planned through October.
Klein also created an interactive website, www.JewishB2BNetworking.com, where people can join, create profiles, search for jobs, register for the networking events, and post to a blog. This site currently boosts 12,000 subscribers and averages 200 job listings daily.
In addition, Klein debuted a new publication, “The Jewish Business News,” in January 2011 in both on- and offline formats. Its current circulation boasts 15,000 subscribers
As Klein continues to add new features, he is beginning to host free teleseminars, starting with one called, “How to Build a Step By Step Selling System That Brings You All the Customers You Want” in April.
Even Senators Dick Durbin, Mark Kirk and Jan Schakowsky are participating in a one-day mega event planned for the fall. It will be an O’Hare-area daylong business exposition and trade show. This event, offered free of charge to those registering in advance, will include a resume-writing workshop, a boot camp for job seekers, and much more.
When asked about his inspiration to create these networking opportunities, Klein said, “I was taught from a young age that the highest form of charity is helping someone to earn their own livelihood so that they’re able to support themselves. Having established relationships with thousands and thousands of businesses, I have sent many people their way. I’m a recruiter’s best friend.”
A second source of inspiration comes from his membership at a Skokie synagogue, Congregation Or Torah. He said, “I enjoy an excellent relationship with Rabbi Zvi Engel, the rabbi at this temple. He is a source of encouragement and inspiration for the work I am involved in.”
Seeing a successful match between job seekers and employers, he said, “I’m thrilled every time I walk into a Starbucks and see an employment connection that I facilitated ‘schmoozing’ and keeping the networking chain going. That feeling of making a successful connection gives me a positive boost of energy that offers more motivation for the hard work of coordinating events and the relationships that come from them.”