Tuesday, January 02, 2007

So what exactly is NET?

This question has been posed to me again and again, which as marketing chair, I am glad to hear because it means we are reaching new people.

Formally, the Lehigh Valley Network of Young Professionals "fosters awareness of employment possibilities, welcomes new young professionals, supports community organizations, provides professional development opportunities, and engages in social networking."

Yeah, yeah you say. But what exactly does that mean? Let's look at it piece by piece.

One of the most active parts of our organization is social networking. Our First Thursday events consistently draw 40-60 people, sometimes more. Although we don't define "young professional" generally NET members hover in age between 22 and 35, with the average age being 28. We are a good mix of locals, like myself, and many imports who are just getting acquainted to the area. Most of us are working and just cutting our teeth in our given businesses which range from engineering, to sales, to graphic design.

Although we are not a dating service, most of our members are single, and many romantic connections have been made through the NET. In fact all of our presidents have met their wives through the organization, so we have a pretty good track record.

Our other strong consistent social opportunity is our monthly dine-outs in which we get together at various restaurants throughout the Lehigh Valley. This is a bit more intimate setting than First Thursday and draws anywhere between 12 and 30 people.

Although we certainly like to cut loose and have a good time, we are not a party or drinking club. However, many members go out together after our events which generally let out around 9 p.m.

We provide employment and professional development opportunities through events like our Connect Business Card Exchanges. Held at art galleries, lofts and other unique places around the Valley, these events provide a more formal, business atmosphere which usually attract 20-40 people. Other professional development events we have held include business lunch etiquette and entrepreneurial events.

In addition to professional development, we also occasionally host educational classes of interest to young professionals like first time home-buying seminars.

As far as supporting community organizations, we have consistently volunteered at Musikfest. And every year we collect cans for our November First Thursday for a local food bank. In addition, we have become involved with Renew Lehigh Valley, an initiative to promote smart growth and revitalization in the Lehigh Valley. Community leaders are listening to young professionals, since we are vital to the future of this region.

Finally, the NET is the unofficial welcoming committee for all young professionals new to the area. The NET is a great way to meet friendly, like-minded people and get out into the region. We hold activities at a variety of locations, and will be able to help orient you in no time.

So what exactly is NET? It's what you make of it. If you just want to hang out, make friends and have a good time, fine. If you want to further your career, beef up your resume, and impress your boss, you can. Or if you want to get involved in the community and make a difference great! You can do all of the above. It's up to you.

I hope you will consider joining us on Thursday for our January First Thursday event at Starter's Riverport. And if you're ready to join, we'll give you 10% off your membership fee during the month of January.

Hope to see you there!

Vanessa Williams
NET Marketing Chair

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