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Can’t Find a Networking Group? Create Your Own

By Jessica Brown

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In the marketing and design fields, one of your best tools is your social network. And I’m not just talking about the online kind. Networking events are the perfect opportunity to build bonds with like-minded professionals that you can learn from, share with, and work with to make a difference in your industry.

The Imagebox team knows the value in great networking, and we like to take as many opportunities to meet new professionals and spread our company’s message as possible. In fact, one of the reasons I chose to join the Imagebox team was because I knew that I would be a part of a company that placed emphasis on the social aspect of business and marketing.

Levo League Comes to Pittsburgh

A few months ago, I went in search of a career resource that spoke to me. I’ve attended quite a few networking in events in Pittsburgh, some that I truly enjoyed and some that I didn’t get much out of. In the midst of my search for some great career advice, I was introduced to Levo League through a friend.

Levo League is a New York-based online community for career-driven Gen-Y women (ages 18-34). I was so pleased to see articles written not for someone at a higher experience level than me, a male CEO, or a new graduate. I saw that the site also include in-person networking groups called Local Levo. I clicked the link and, to my disappointment, Pittsburgh wasn’t on the list.

So I emailed them. And after months of planning, Local Levo Pittsburgh had our first event last week: a negotiation discussion called “#Ask4More.” I sat at the front of the room as co-leader. It took some time to get off the ground, but all of the work that you put into something that can enrich your career and the careers of your peers… is worth it.

Setting Our Own Goals

I’d set out in search of a group in Pittsburgh that fit a certain niche: career networking for young, driven women. And though there are plenty of amazing networking groups for young women in the city, Levo has resources on a national level that we can use on a local one. I was able to create a group that lets me advance the careers of local women by tapping into a country-wide community.

That being said, you don’t need a national network to build a fantastic group. Think about the goals you want to achieve in your own career. Can’t think of a group to join that will help you surpass these goals? It’s time to create a group of your own! If you’re looking for a solution, certainly others in similar positions are looking, too. I heard from so many women at our first meeting that they had been looking for a group that fit their needs as young and innovative professionals, just like I had.

A Company of Co-Operation

I might be the latest Imagebox team member to start my own networking group, but I am definitely not the first. Our Creative Director and Owner, John Mahood, is in charge of a number of groups in the Pittsburgh area:

Imagebox is also a regular hosting spot of these groups:

Tips for Networking Newbies

Two other options to consider if you don’t see yourself having the time to manage a networking group? A Meetup group or LinkedIn group.

On Meetup, you can create or find groups and easily coordinate in-person meetings. If you have a group that meets at the same time consistently, it’s easy to set and forget the group, while still having all of the information available online to those interested in attending.

LinkedIn groups are beneficial, because while they may not have the personal connection that in-person networking groups have, you can easily share resources, advice, and contact information with peers and industry leaders using LinkedIn groups. You can even make plans to meet up in person after making that initial connection.

Remember to use social, whether your group is online or off. It’s a great tool for helping to spread the word. And once you’ve successfully promoted your first event, remember to continue your momentum and make a plan for the next meeting. Successful networking groups are ones that continually provide value to members – and that requires the leader (you) to make a plan.

Align Your Goals with Your Group’s Goals

You want your networking group to work like this:

Align your goals and your group's goals for something you can be passionate about.

Not like this:

You shouldn't be disconnected from your networking group - you should be at the center.

 

When you are in charge of a group, you should be at the center of it, taking an active role. This is much easier to do when the goals of your organization align with your personal goals. By creating a group that aims to accomplish tasks that are of interest to you, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of passionate leadership.

If you’re interested in any of the groups that the Imagebox team is affiliated with or you just want to chit chat about starting your own group, send me an email at jessica@imagebox.com. You can join the Pittsburgh Levo League Mightybell space to get started with the group.

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