You might be new to town, a budding entrepreneur, building a side hustle, a successful franchisee, or part of a well-established company. Wherever you are in your career journey, a young professionals network can provide you with invaluable resources as you connect with like-minded individuals, experts and industry peers.
Here in the Rocket City, there are many ways to connect with other business professionals that can help you develop your own networking skillset, build meaningful relationships, and raise your company’s profile. In this post, we will explore ways to get involved in Huntsville networking groups and events as well as the overall benefits of expanding your professional horizons.
Reasons to join a Huntsville networking group:
- Identify collaborative partnerships
- Receive feedback from peers and counterparts
- Gain new clients for your business
- Connect with mentors and experts
- Learn best practices and expand your knowledge
- Stay up to date on new happenings
- Raise awareness for your company or brand
- Build your confidence and networking skills
- Develop and establish credibility
- Get involved in the community
- Enjoy membership benefits
HYP is a Huntsville networking group for young professionals ranging from their 20s to 40s that sponsor both paid and free events. If you're the sporty type (or even if you're not) you can join in the fun at a Trash Panda's baseball game or hang out on the ice for a game of curling. For something a little more low-key, grab your favorite caffeinated brew at one of their Saturday morning events at local coffee shops like Dark Side or Good Company Cafe.
If you're not an early weekend riser (like me) and a cocktail is more your speed, you could attend one of their many HYPpy Hours after work during the week, attend one of their a comedy nights or Concerts on the Dock at Lowe Mill, show off your moves at the Electric Belle, or find artistic inspiration at the Huntsville Museum of Art. They also sponsor different volunteer events with local non-profit organizations like ShowerUp -- in other words, they have something for everybody.
The Chamber is a massive resource for anyone new to the city or those Huntsville OGs who are looking for better ways to get involved or are on the job hunt. Their professionals network is extensive and worth being tapped into, especially for their business networking groups and events (over 200 a year!) like the ones we’ve listed below.
You might just come for the pancakes or you might just learn something. This Huntsville networking group encourages active discussion and the chance to collaborate with the other attendees. In groups of 4 to 6 people, each participant is given a chance to speak about their own organization, product or service, and then rotate into a different group. Each group rotates its members at least five times throughout the event so everyone gets a chance to roam the room. Admission is $15 for members of the Chamber and $25 for non-members.
This is where the big kahunas come to chat and share their wealth of knowledge. C-Suite level leaders – like CEOs, CFOs, and COOs -- from the greater Huntsville area bring their particular expertise to the table and open themselves up for questions and lively, engaging conversation. Admission is $5 for members of the Chamber and $10 for non-members.
Geared towards small businesses, this series hosts workshops for professional development and business planning that cover digital marketing, social media, cyber security, HR best practices and customer relations. If you want to be one of those Excel wizards or a PowerPoint mastermind, they also offer monthly computer training courses as well. Online registration is required. Admission is $5 for members of the Chamber and $10 for non-members.
This more laid-back, recreational gathering offers professionals the chance to have a cold beverage and network to their heart's content. Online registration is required. Admission is $15 for members of the Chamber and $25 for non-members.
You’ve got to be in the club for this one. These events are varied and held exclusively for members of the Chamber. Networking meet-and-greets, advanced course offerings and certifications, as well as informational presentations show up on their calendar several times a month. Chamber Night Out is one such member-only event, designed to show appreciation for Chamber members and offer them a night of connection, relaxation, and entertainment.
There is no set pricing for these events; some are complimentary to members while others require additional fees.
The WBC leads events throughout the year that support and advocate for woman-owned businesses and spotlight important female business owners and key contributors within the community. If you’re interested in joining the council, you can submit an application here.
But what do I wear?
With all these young professional networking events you’re attending, you’ll need to look the part. It is empowering to walk into a room (or turn on your laptop video) and immediately make a good impression. Command the respect you deserve and shine with confidence not only in your tone and demeanor but also with your clothing style. Check out our guide on business attire for suggestions on fashion choices that will not only jive with your personality but also be suitable for the event that you attend. Even if someone will only see half of you for that Zoom lunch and learn or virtual workshop, it is important to dress appropriately.
Leadership Greater Huntsville defines itself as “an inclusive community of enlightened and engaged servant leaders” that aims to “identify, educate, inspire and connect leaders to build a better community.” They offer four distinct programs that cater to different seniority levels and age groups within the business professional community. Focus and Connect are the two most relevant programs that specifically target young professionals. Focus is a 2.5-day program that will give you a crash course and behind-the-scenes tour of all things Huntsville where you’ll meet movers and shakers within the local government, health care and education sectors. Connect is definitely more in-depth, spanning the course of ten months. You’ll get to see and do everything that the Focus program provides but with larger scale group projects, educational seminars and direct community involvement. Connect members get to hear from influential leaders who represent many of Huntsville’s diverse industries, bringing awareness to all areas of the community and how they support our local economy. Connect also organizes philanthropy efforts and initiatives through volunteering and fundraising to support local charities and non-profits. The two other programs offered -- Flagship and Management Academy – are more geared towards the heavy-lifters and senior leaders but if that seems up your alley, you can find out more about them here.
Huntsville has several non-profit organizations that are always looking for individuals to jump in and lend a helping hand. Getting involved in a program that really inspires you can not only make a lasting impact within your community but give you the chance to meet people who share the same passions as you do. We’ve put together a short list of local organizations with active volunteer programs, but if nothing calls out at you, conduct a little solo research and find out which non-profit speaks to you.
Online Business Networking Groups
Last but not least, we’ll give a shout-out to the underdogs out there. There might be a Huntsvillian niche group of peers in which you’ll find valuable connections. MeetUp and EventBrite list smaller, more exclusive Huntsville networking groups and gatherings that might just be the thing you’re looking for. Search by keyword, category or location on either on these event platforms and a plethora of pop-ups, happy hours, mixers, classes, trainings, and certifications (virtual and in-person) will appear.
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