Guest commentator: Andrew Still, Forensic Accounting Manager, EisnerAmper LLP, @realAndrewStill @EisnerAmper, Member of YPC’s Advisory Board and Co-Chair of the Events Committee

In what ways can young professionals grow through networking opportunities offered in our region?

Networking – some love it; some despise it.  Nevertheless, everyone will agree that networking is key. Whether you are an extrovert, an introvert, or somewhere in between, you probably understand the value of networking, and its career advancing potential.

Young professionals in the Greater Philadelphia region are fortunate to have an exceptional assortment of networking opportunities at their fingertips. However, one must know where to find them. A common misconception is that networking is placing yourself into a forced, awkward, uncomfortable situation in a big room to shake hands and exchange business cards with a bunch of strangers. It does not have to be this way.

When people tell me that they loathe networking and ask me how to build a network in Philly, I usually tell them to do what interests them and to build their relationships with people that share those interests. Make friends and unlock new doors. Do you like running? I can spout off over 20 large running clubs in the area that meet regularly. Do you want to get involved in a Non-Profit Board? Philly is home to over 8,000 non-profit headquarters, according to Guidestar. I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

The point is that whether you are into politics, civic action, chess, social justice, fitness, you name it, Philly has an organization for you, filled with working professionals that, like you, want to make friends and help advance their careers. Whatever it is you may be interested in, the City of Brotherly Love has it. All you need to do is show up, right?

Show up, yes, but take it a step further, show up, keep showing up, and get involved! Join a committee. Take on a leadership position. Let your voice be heard. The benefits of building a network with like-minded young professionals are invaluable. When you get involved, you are investing in your career development and gaining transferable leadership skills. You are putting yourself on the fast track, and having fun doing it.

I got involved with YPC through my employer, EisnerAmper. Shortly thereafter, I joined a committee, and eventually became a Board member. Through my involvement as a YPC Board Member and Co-Chair of the Events committee, I have had the opportunity to meet local business leaders, plan our events, and gain valuable career skills. In addition to the YPC Board, I volunteer my time at other nonprofits and participate in different networking activities. Many of these activities overlap with the same like-minded people that I have met through YPC and the Chamber.  I can proudly say that through my involvement in YPC, I have developed business relationships who I now consider very close friends. If you can network with your friends, I guarantee you will enjoy it a lot more.