Who you know is often as important as what you know when it comes to moving up the career ladder or succeeding in business. For young professional in low-income areas like Bell Gardens and other southeast cities, those relationships are especially vital to getting ahead.
In Bell Gardens, the local chamber of commerce, business owners and members of the community have joined forces to address business networking opportunities for the younger generation by creating a group where young professionals are the ones exchanging business cards.
With the support of the Bell Gardens Chamber of Commerce, Bhavan Singh, 28, and a group of other young chamber members have formed The Young Networking Group Los Angeles (YNGLA) The group’s purpose is to create a way for young “business-minded” people to meet and network.
“The focus is to help young professionals,” Singh said. “Its not to sell their service but to help build relationships.”
The group is intended to be a way for young men and women, ages 20 to 40, to meet other young professionals and make new friends who can help navigate their career paths. Though currently based in Bell Gardens, people living outside of the city are welcome to join.
YNGLA member Mike Salazar, 35, told EGP that age is not as important as the energy level of those who decide to join the group’s networking events.
“The purpose is to build that connection,” he said. “You never know who you are going to meet and how they’re going to help you in the future.”
About 40 people attended the group’s inaugural networking mixer held earlier this month in Bell Gardens.
Bell Gardens Chamber Executive Director Carlos Cruz told EGP that the group defines young professionals as anyone who is ambitious and wants to achieve more, whether they are still students, recent graduates or still not in their ideal job.
“We want young people to understand the value of networking,” he said. “It’s a skill set.”
Salazar said the event connected young people from throughout the business spectrum.
“Its important to meet people outside of your circle, especially when you’re young and just starting off,” he added.
The group used the blueprint of what other organizations and networking groups have done as a guide for forming their organization, Singh explained.
A committee of six YNGLA members is working with the Chamber to plan events and organize the group. They told EGP that all their events are open to young professionals, and there is no admission or membership fees. They are relying on their Facebook page and word of mouth to promote networking meetings.
“We want to make sure that everyone enjoys coming to our events so they’ll tell their friends, so each time more and more people participate,” Singh said.
Salazar told EGP the group also intends to teach effective networking strategies to young people who may not have the first clue about how to make the most of the opportunity.
“[Networking] is more than just collecting business cards,” Singh said. “It helps develop relationships with people that they otherwise never would have met.”
And while the events are social opportunities for participants, Singh told EGP networking is not the same thing as partying,
“We just want people that are serious about networking and serious about getting their business out there.”
YNGLA Heads to Commerce In October
A Matchmaking Event will be held Oct. 2 at Steven Steakhouse in Commerce. The event will give participants the opportunity to meet with professionals in various fields through a “speed dating” format. It will held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and is open to the public. Admission is free. Steven Steakhouse is located at 5332 Stevens Pl., Commerce 90040. For more information, call Bhavan Singh, at (714) 458-3901.