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The Hispanic Professionals Networking Groups seeks to increase the visibility of Hispanic business professionals by fostering a great unity through networking opportunities. NEW YORK * MIAMI

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Trendy Spots and Cult Vendor Carts

Sometimes I do take a break from HPNG.

The weekend started innocently enough (as it always does...) with a visit from my dear friend Leslie Sanchez.

She and her mom would be in NY, so of course, it's the perfect excuse for us to hang out at trendy spots we normally wouldn't visit.

We meet at the lobby of the Gansevoort Hotel in the meatpacking district, waiting for PR maven Harrison Wise and his friend Zak from Brightspot Media (who looks disarmingly like the Royal Prince Harry). Upon landing a primo spot at the sky bar, we're told the area is for bottle service seating only. While we briefly considered the option, the price tag of $350 per vodka bottle swayed us to find on "non-primo" spot....quickly.

We settled by the seating area facing the Hudson River (non-primo area indeed) and ordered our more reasonably priced drinks. Of course, the wind decides to blow at 100 (cold) miles an hour making Leslie look like she was starring in Mariah Carey video with her hair blowing all over the place. On the bright side, she did get a great blow out, which I reminded her that people pay a lot of money for that. After some quick buffoonery on my part, set to a blasting "Like a Virgin" (that's all I'm saying...) we're off to the Maritime Hotel.

Ah yes...capitalism at its best. The Maritime Hotel used to be Covenant House. A shelter for battered women and their children. But given the building's outstanding architecture and striking porthole windows, what developer could resist transforming that into a trendy, highly lucrative NY hotspot? We don't know what did become of those battered women and their children. We didn't ask and they didn't tell.

Of course, they had the de facto roped-off entrance where we're told we can't come in. Digging into my arsenal of one-liners I've used way too many times to gain access into the now defunct Limelight, I boldly declared, "I'm with John, and he's waiting for us upstairs." and presto, we're in. Our night there concludes with more reasonably priced drinks, awesome pizza and great conversation...even if we did have to chase our server down every time we wanted anything.

Day Two of the Weekend: I meet Leslie and her mom at the Tumi store in Rockefeller Center, where I pointed out to Leslie Le Maison du Chocolat and how smart her J.Lo-esque outfit looked on her.

Sampling chocolates and truffles always makes us thirsty so we're off to (you guessed it) get some drinks. The Renaissance Hotel in Times Square is renovating their dining hall with the outstanding view where they've erected a faux wall. Showcasing my talents for shadow puppetry, I showed Leslie's mom my best shadow duckie...only to be outdone by a tourist who made a unicorn! Jeez, I thought only New Yorkers were hyper-competitive!

Still on a quest for drinks and coffee, Plan B took us to one of NY's best kept secrets of a breathtaking view of Times Square. (I can't tell you where...it's a secret).

After drinks and coffee, we walked mom back to the Hilton and head over to the Shoreham Hotel and the Peninsula Hotel for...well....more drinks. (I'm beginning to see a pattern...)

If you haven't been to the Peninsula Hotel, their sky bar is a place everyone should experience at least once. However, after paying over $50 for two drinks, I suddenly felt nostalgic for the reasonably priced drinks at the Gansevoort.

After some talk about HPNG's July networking event and Leslie's upcoming book, we believe our night is almost complete and head out in search of food. Hell's kitchen's Cielo hit the spot.

I'm walking Leslie back to the hotel, when I notice...the cult vendor cart.

Now, I've lived in NY many years and have done the requisite after-the-club-foodie-hotspots. Empire Diner, Galaxy Diner, Moonstruck Diner, Papaya's on 6th and 7th Aves., etc. But this I'd never seen...a line that formed almost half a city block!

There, on the corner of 53rd and 6th Ave., stands the Halal Gyro and Chicken vendor cart.

"What manner of madness is this?" I asked Leslie. We quickly become the Latino versions of Nancy Drew and One Hardy Boy, with the resolve to get to the bottom of this.

I approach the cart and survey the food. It looks fine. We decide the best way to find out what's really going on is to do some old fashioned investigative reporting. Kinda like Anderson Cooper but without all the bullets flying around me.

First stop, two Asian club chicks relishing their pita party. After telling them I'm writing a news piece on this particular vendor, they give us the scoop.

"No one goes to the others and I've gotten sick from food from the other carts."

"What about the line, is that normal?"

"Yes, this is where everyone comes."

We press on, still not convinced that a mere gyro cart, with no apparent celebrity endorsement, can create such a frenzy.

We hit the mother lode when we discover the vendors hire their own security guards! Our new friend, one of their security guys, tells us the backstory.

"They've been out here for years and the cart across the street is also theirs, but no goes there because this the one to come to. It's like the cool thing to do. People will drive in from Jersey after hours just to get food from this cart."

"What about the line," I badger, "is it always like this?"

"This is nothing. At 5 a.m. this place is like rush hour. In the winter, even when it's 20 degrees, you'll have people waiting as long as an hour just to get their Halal fix."


Sadly, we didn't have the patience (and we were stuffed with Italian food) to wait in line and sample these addicting delicacies.

We vow to come back. This time with an appetite.

Friday, July 20, 2007

It's All About The Follow Up

What are biggest challenges in prospecting for new clients and promoting your services or business? What about challenges on getting business or career advice?

When you want to lose weight, you don’t just go the “getting on Weight Watchers” route. It's a comprehensive approach; exercising, a support system, goals and a way to measure your progress.

The same applies to building relationships. It's not a one size fits all approach either. If you're more of a socializer (like me) you like face-to-face meetings and events. If you're a little shy and find it hard to talk about yourself to someone you just met, an online networking site works better for you.

Relationship building in its truest form is gaining trust. Your relationship with your closest friends develops because those are the people you trust the most. Part of the comprehensive approach to building a trusting relationship is one where you are continually engaged with them in one form or another. Sound simple, but how often do you do it?

Remember in college how there was always one person who was at every party? You didn't know them, but there they were. Eventually, if you did end up in a conversation with that person, the conversation felt somewhat comfortable, familiar even.

Networking events can provide that consistency and familiarity with potential business leads, clients, customers and partners. When you extend that relationship from familiar grounds to an online format, the relationship grows stronger.

It's true, we do business we people we know. All things being equal, one will always choose to do business with someone they know. They will continue to do so because they’ve grown trust them.

Popularity breeds contempt. Networking events are not a popularity contest or a race to see who gets the most business cards at the end of the night. Mostly, the contempt is directed at networking whores whose mission is to get your card, give you theirs and move on.

But what’s the point of having a stack of cards if you don’t follow up? That’s the key.

Yes, it’s work. But, yes, it works.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I've Got A Guy for Everything

That was the statement one of my friends made when we were talking about business processes. He knew someone for everything he wasn't well versed in.

Marketing? Check. Accounting? Check. Computer networking? Check. (He went on...)

Does that mean you have to know them personally? Certainly not. That is what a recommendation is. How about a "friend of a friend" referral? Still valid.

Next week, HPNG will introduce its membership packages that will offer all kinds of training and workshops. Until then, we're still offering at, no cost, access to our HPNG LinkedIn Group and HPNG's e-Share online forum. Once you've signed up to the HPNG mailing list, you're set.

Now you too will have "A Guy for Everything."

HPNG NY mailing list

HPNG MIAMI mailing list

Sunday, July 15, 2007

HPNG Miami June '07 pics

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Cooking With Beer

Congratulations to Mindy Figueroa of Latin2Latin Marketing for an outstanding event last night.

Hell's Kitchen's Elsie Ramos' new book, ELSIE'S TURKEY TACOS AND ARROZ CON POLLO just came out, much to our palate's delight.

Elsie energy radiated throughout Mama Juana's restaurant in north Manhattan. Everyone kept telling me I wasn't in the Bronx, although anywhere past 125th St. always confuses me. But I assure you, it didn't matter where I was after Elsie delicacies were passed around for us to sample.

Being a Budweiser drinker (hey I'm from Texas, that's what we do), I'm already a fan of Anheuser-Busch, but with Michelob showcasing their new ales, I'm hooked.

As if I needed an excuse to drink, Michelob's Ultra Amber was a rich surprise. After Elsie used several of Michelob's lagers to cook, I decided I need to learn how to cook that Arroz con Pollo con cerveza!

Elsie, I'm looking forward to having you share your story at an HPNG event soon and please bring along some tasty treats!! I will try and see if the folks at Michelob can join us as well so you too can have one more reason to drink.

Seen at the scene: Mindy Figueroa, Laura Martinez, Sami Haiman-Marrero, Carlos Vassallo, Rosa Alonso, Aileen Schlef, Oscar Marino Bolaños and many others.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

La Jackie

The big exciting news (aside from my birthday on Friday the 13th) is that after half a year of requests and re-schedulings, HPNG presents Jacqueline Hernandez, Publisher of People En Español on July 26th.

Our Guest Host is none other than our favorite blogger, Laura La Fabulosa Martinez.

Hope to see you there!

HPNG NY July Networking Event


Monday, July 02, 2007

The Man, The Icon

While many folks in the corporate world have started to take their Summer time off, HPNG's event still attracted some new faces last Thursday in NY.

Many thanks to Mr. Ralph Paniagua and Mr. Juan Guillen of DTM Magazine for a great job in facilitating a candid discussion on the state of today's Hispanic professionals. Mr. Paniagua's extremely honest approach to his conversation left us only wishing we would have had more time to continue our dialogue. Hmmm....Paniagua Parte Dos. Maybe.

Seen at the scene: David Wolff, Sara Bisconte, Esteban Quinoes, Dee Sepulveda, Elsie Sanchez, Orlando Maldonado, Max Ramirez, Michael Gonzalez, Frank Rivera, Cartagena, Giancarlo Rodriguez, Stefanie Lauria, Fernando Rola and many others.