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Networking opportunities for young professionals in Miami and Broward

Emerge Broward Program Co-Chairs Michael Kuang and Maggie Gunther
Emerge Broward Program Co-Chairs Michael Kuang and Maggie Gunther
The Pontes Group

Young professionals take note: “It’s not only what you know, but who you know.” Connection is key and, by joining the young professionals section of a community service organization, young professionals can connect with others, while giving back to the community.

Many non-profit organizations offer recent graduates and young professionals unique opportunities to meet established professionals and community leaders, network with their peers and interact with members of the community. These groups also foster professional growth and career advancement through leadership development courses, guest speaker presentations and educational seminars.

Despite the popularity of social media and online networking sites, face-to-face interactions remain a significant aspect of networking, wrote Dan Schawbel in his April 2012 TIME Magazine article, "Why Face-to-Face Networking Still Trumps Social Networking." According to Schawbel, “To form strong bonds with co-workers and colleagues and differentiate yourself from the pack, there is no substitute for connecting in person.”

Check out these volunteer organizations and the benefits offered to young professionals.

Club Blue of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade is dedicated to providing a fun, safe environment for children in Miami-Dade County. There are a total of five clubs located throughout the county, with a total of 12,000 children served. Each club offers educational programming, such as leadership development, character building and fitness, in addition to homework help, sports and friendship.

Club Blue was created for motivated young professionals who are dedicated to the Boys & Girls Clubs' mission of “building community awareness and establishing long lasting ties with the community.” The organization encourages members to become community leaders and provides them with the skills and opportunities to do so. Club Blue invites members to exclusive networking events where they can connect socially and professionally with others. Members also participate in various volunteer activities, with all funds benefiting the Boys & Girls Clubs.

Members of Club Blue are 45 years of age and younger and are individual contributors of $150 or more annually.

Emerge Broward of the Leadership Broward Foundation

The Leadership Broward Foundation sponsors leadership development programs for emerging and established leaders. Members are encouraged to become volunteers, donors and board members, and to leverage their knowledge and leadership skills to effect positive change in the community. Leadership Broward also provides members with opportunities to connect and network with one another, building social and professional relationships. Leadership Broward brings "the private, public and nonprofit sectors together to work collaboratively on issues vital to the future of our community."

Emerge Broward, the young professionals arm of Leadership Broward, aims to connect young professionals and emerging community leaders with one another and with established leaders. The benefits of membership include access to top community leaders, professional and leadership development programs and opportunities to form meaningful professional and social connections. In addition to hosting networking events, Emerge Broward also invites members to participate in volunteer opportunities offered by the "Engage Committee."

"Our events allow up-and-coming and established young professionals to network among themselves, with members of Leadership Broward Foundation, as well as with top business and community leaders who are featured speakers at our events," said Maggie Gunther, Program Co-Chair of Emerge Broward. "Membership includes numerous free events as well as access to members-only events. Members also have the option of participating in the Emerge Broward Board Engagement program, which trains and places members to serve on local boards for nonprofits."

Emerge Broward is open to young professionals between 21 through 35 years of age. There is an annual membership fee of $40.

HYPE Council of Glam-A-THON™

Glam-A-THON™ is an organization dedicated to fighting breast cancer that incorporates “glitz, glam and style” into each fundraising event. They assist uninsured and underprivileged women in obtaining preventative care and early diagnostic testing and, for those battling breast cancer, they provide transportation to and from treatment, financial aid and post-surgical Medebras.

The young professionals section, the HYPE Council (Headquarters for Young Professional Engagement), is a “dynamic group of movers and shakers,” said HYPE Council Chairwomen Lais Pontes. While networking with other young professionals, members also “play a role in raising tens of thousands of dollars and helping women in Broward County who are battling breast cancer.”

HYPE Council members attend monthly meetings, host and assist fundraising events and contribute an annual $45 donation. For more information, click here.

Young Leaders of the United Way of Miami-Dade and the United Way of Broward County

The United Way aims to improve and strengthen the community by providing funding to programs and agencies that focus on one or more of its three main areas: education, financial stability and health. The funds raised by each branch of the United Way remain in that branch’s county, allowing members to see the positive impact their efforts and donations on the community.

The Young Leaders sections of each branch invite members to educational seminars, networking opportunities and social events. Members are also encouraged to participate at volunteer events or to host their own fundraising initiatives. One of the program’s most popular events is the monthly luncheon at which members meet local business executives and philanthropists in an intimate setting.

“Typically members join because they want to make a positive difference in the community they live in,” said Matt Beck, Chairman of the Young Leaders Society at the United Way of Broward County. “There is a great value in creating personal and professional relationships with like-minded individuals and executives who have a common goal [of] helping the community.”

The Young Leaders section is open to professionals ages 40 and under who donate at the leadership level of $1,000 or more annually (new members can elect to “Fast Track” their membership with a donation of $500 donation in year one, $750 in year two and $1,000 or more in each year thereafter). More information on the Young Leaders section in Miami-Dade County is available here. More information on the Young Leaders section in Broward County is available here.

Young Partners’ Council of Broward Partnership

Broward Partnership provides homeless men, women and children with short-term, emergency shelter and a variety of programs to assist them in becoming independent, active members of the community.

The Young Partners’ Council offers members “the opportunity to network and socialize with like-minded young professionals while also having a hands-on impact on homelessness in Broward,” said Christi Lyn Rice, Staff Liaison for the Young Partners’ Council. Many Young Partners’ Council events combine fundraising drives to benefit the homeless with networking events among young professionals and established leaders. Members are also offered volunteer opportunities, such as marketing, event planning, photography, interacting with children and serving meals to the homeless.

The Young Partners' Council is open to professionals between 21 and 40 years of age. There are no other requirements for membership.