I WENT TO Budapest, Hungary, to learn about business opportunities, and to acquire knowledge that I can use as I advocate for companies in New Jersey. My three-day trip was about building bridges and connecting businesses in New Jersey with opportunities and companies in Hungary.
Located in central Europe, Hungary is similar in size to New Jersey in terms of population—approximately 10 million people.
I traveled with a delegation of business and academic professionals, which was organized by CIANJ member New Jersey City University (NJCU) through Professor David Weiss, who is of Hungarian descent, and is also the founder of the Institute for Dispute Resolution.
Hungarians or Magyars as they are called, are a highly educated and skilled people, and the number one industry in their country is automotive, thanks to a relationship with Germany, followed by a robust and growing financial services industry. The United States is the second largest investor in Hungary.
Reflecting on my trip, I can offer the following observations.
New Jersey is a brand. If New Jersey’s economy is to thrive and prosper, it must see itself as a brand and be seen by others as an environment where investment is welcome. Investments generate jobs, wealth, tax revenues, philanthropy and quality of life. We must be seen as a place to grow and develop new businesses and ideas.
It’s personal. Collaboration is key to our success. It is all about building new relationships and cultivating new ideas through collaboration, and one-on-one interaction. We must get to know the culture and mindset of the people we want to work with before committing our resources. Building trust and a level of comfort can only be done in person and should be seen as a prerequisite to business success. We cannot rely on our government to build these vital relationships for us—trips to new markets led by business associations and universities can be building blocks for long-term commerce and trade. My trip to Hungary is just one example.
Follow-Up is Key. A business trip or conference should be seen as the start of a relationship, instead of a one-time experience. Following up on discussions and ideas is a key to building businesses, both in New Jersey and abroad. I met extraordinary people in Hungary, and I looked at the world through a new lens, which gives me a new perspective on how to approach similar situations here in New Jersey. I will be following up on my Budapest conversations with the hope of connecting CIANJ members with new revenue opportunities.
CIANJ was pleased to partner with NJCU on this conference, and we look forward to working on similar events in the future. I want to thank our hosts in Hungary, especially the CMS law firm, for their hospitality and for assuring the trip was both enjoyable and worthwhile.