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When you join a local networking group, like the Young Professionals of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation,  your career can grow, while you make new connections and give back to the community.

When you join a local networking group your career can grow, while you make new connections and give back to the community.

by Trish Adkins

With LinkedIn and dozens of other online professional networking groups, you might feel like you have networking down to a science. The digital age has given all of us the opportunity to connect with professionals from all around the world. However, virtual networking can take away from the personal connections often crafted through young professionals groups in your community.

When you join a local networking group, like the Young Professionals of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation,  your career can grow, while you make new connections and give back to the community. Not sure if an in-person networking group is for you? Here are ten reasons to convince you:

1. Grow your social capital. There is strength in numbers! Going offline and meeting in person gives you the opportunity to congregate with like-minded professionals, share ideas, build your network and become part of a professional community.

2. Develop your leadership skills. When you join a professional group, the opportunities to lead are limitless. Are you great at marketing? Lead your group’s outreach efforts. A pro at finances?  Manage the organization’s budget. Plus, you can take your new found leadership skills into your workplace. Share what you’ve learned with your managers, so they can see your leadership potential. 

3. Learn from your peers. Maybe your profession is engineering, but you love event planning. Or maybe you are interested in growing your managerial skills. Joining a professional group gives you the opportunity to learn from your peers. Take advantage of classes and activities the group offers to grow your knowledge. 

4. Build a better resume. In your college days, maybe you were in a sorority or student council president. Now, it can be hard to find those resume-building opportunities. Participating in a young professional’s group can be an impressive addition to your resume. It shows an interest in volunteerism and a willingness to take on leadership roles in your community. 

5. Discover new job opportunities. Experts estimate that between 60-80 percent of jobs are found through personal relationships. There is no better way to forge personal, local relationships than hanging out with young professionals from different industries. Share your goals and keep your eyes and ears open for new opportunities.

6. Find a side gig. If you are looking for a little extra work to grow both your income and your experience, a networking group can provide great side gig opportunities for you. Or if your company needs someone to serve as a consultant, you can offer the same side gig opportunity to a member of your group. 

7. Volunteer your time. Professional networking groups are often focused on giving back and volunteerism. The Young Professionals of ALSF, for example, plans several special events each year to raise awareness and funding for childhood cancer research. 

8. Stay inspired. No matter what your profession, staying inspired to grow and innovate can be difficult when you are in an office 40 hours a week. Meeting with like-minded young professionals gives you the opportunity to trade ideas, solve problems and get inspiration that will only help your career. 

9. Make new friends. Gone are the days when you can find your new bestie bonding over chemistry lab work. Whether you are in a new city or a simply a new phase of your professional life, joining a networking group can connect you with a whole new group of friends. 

10. Get motivated. Whether your goals are to grow your career and build up your network or to help your community and make new friends, joining these groups can help you stayed motivated to reach your personal, professional and community goals. 

Looking for an active young professional group? Check out the Young Professionals of ALSF, a group of self-starting, enthusiastic individuals dedicated to fulfilling Alex Scott's vision to find a cure for childhood cancer--one cup at a time. The group has chapters in Philadelphia, New York City and Boston. If you don’t live in one of these cities, you can start your own chapter.

Comprised of a variety of young professionals including teachers, healthcare and business professionals, vendors and those simply looking to give back, The Young Professionals of ALSF supports the Foundation through a variety of networking and fundraising events, including the upcoming the Speakeasy in Philadelphia on April 22. Get your Speakeasy tickets here