This article was originally published in the September 2017 Princeton Echo.
Princeton is an easy sell. Mostly because it sells itself. My job is to introduce senior-level executives to Princeton, and Princeton to senior-level executives who are considering relocating here. And I have to admit, I have a very easy job.
My company, Inside Princeton, helps organizations and companies in our area recruit and retain the best talent. My first order of business is to introduce candidates to Princeton, and if they decide to move here, my second order of business is to help acclimate the family to the community. I help them learn where to find doctors, builders, volunteer opportunities, etc. Things they would eventually find out on their own, only it would take them a lot more time.
And then there is the all-important task of helping spouses find work in Princeton. As it turns out, much of the decision to relocate a family comes down to whether a spouse can find work in the area. Often, it’s less about the candidate’s potential job and more about the quality of life, the quality of schools for their children, and the opportunities a community has to offer.
When candidates and their spouses get to know about the many benefits of Princeton — the high-quality public and private schools, the proximity to Philadelphia and New York, the arts and culture, the history, the focus on environmental stewardship, the cordial friendship between Princeton University and the residents, and, of course, the great merchants and community organizations that care so deeply about this town — the more likely they are to see how great a place Princeton is to work and live.
What makes my job so much fun is that even though I’ve lived in Princeton for years, I’m still discovering new things. It wasn’t long ago that I learned about Volunteer Connect, for example, which matches community and service-minded residents with the best volunteer organizations for them. But now that I know about Volunteer Connect, I make sure to tell the job candidates I meet all about it, and about the many volunteer opportunities Princeton has to offer.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that so many of the professionals who come here are volunteer-minded. Candidates for jobs in Princeton need to be a good fit for the community, and the community for them. The best fits often come in wanting to give back to a community that will give so much to them.
Discovering whether the fit is right usually is a simple matter of exposing candidates from near and far to what Princeton is all about. If spending a few hours with me isn’t enough, spending an hour with Mimi Omiecinski of Princeton Tour Company is usually enough for candidates to decide whether Princeton is the place they want to be.
It’s also interesting talking to those who already know Princeton versus those who have never been here. Sometimes, someone knew Princeton 20 years ago and comes in with ideas about how the town used to be. To some degree, they’re right, but in other ways, not so. Thanks to the efforts of groups like the Princeton Merchants Association, local business groups, and the university, Princeton has managed to retain its essential character and still evolve with changing times.
I started my professional life at Princeton Day School, before starting my own advertising and marketing firm. And when I started at PDS, the staff, faculty, and administrators worked hard to make sure I felt supported in my new career. Years later, I still believe that if you’re open to Princeton, Princeton will go out of its way to support you and guide you to success in whatever you do.
I still experience that support myself. Two common concerns of professional candidates are schools and real estate. My first call after talking to candidates leaning Princeton’s way is to Jud Henderson at Callaway Henderson Sotheby’s. Jud helps candidates figure out where they might want to live in town, or in some of Princeton’s great neighbors, like Pennington, Hopewell, or Rocky Hill.
I don’t know if Jud’s job is as easy as mine, but I do know that convincing people that Princeton is a terrific place is fun and rewarding. This is a small town with big-city opportunities and a sense of character you just don’t find in most places. What makes it even better is that the missions of my company and of the Princeton Merchants Association — to extol the virtues of Princeton’s lively economy and its many positive contributions to the community — mesh so perfectly.
At the end of the day, my job is simply to pull back the curtain and let Princeton, with all that it has to offer, sell itself.
Bob Denby can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org and 609-841-6318.