By Suzanne Lambert, KPMG LLP, Emerge Tampa Bay Membership Committee Member
When I moved to Tampa from Atlanta last summer I was fresh out of college, brand new at my job and felt somewhat disconnected from the Tampa area. All of my professional and personal connections were back home and I felt like I was missing ties to the Tampa community. I finally stumbled upon Emerge while I was looking for professional organizations online and, to put it simply, it was the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
However, this is no relationship that starts beautifully, only to end in tears and emotional Facebook statuses. Emerge has continuously helped to expand my professional network while helping me meet some amazing new friends and leaders in the community along the way. It boasts four committees fit for every niche, has a presence in nearly every event and industry in Tampa and holds very popular monthly networking events coined “The Buzz.”
The most recent Buzz event was held on Thursday, May 14 at Ducky’s Sports Lounge, a Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce member conveniently located near downtown Tampa. The pouring rain did not stop 175 young professionals from eagerly filling the space, drink tickets in hand, to connect with other young professionals in the area. Attendees had the opportunity to grab drinks and food while engaging in mini bowling or simply meeting other people.
To my surprise, most people came alone, but you never would have guessed it by the easy and lively conversation that flowed from every corner in Ducky’s. Conversation ranged from work, to sport teams, to which style of pizza is best (New York, IMHO). I had the opportunity to talk about my company, as well as learn about amazing companies, charities and resources that I did not know of previously— all while in a fun and comfortable environment with people who are genuinely interested in what others do. The event was set to end at 7:30 p.m., but many people did not leave until around midnight.
What came as an overwhelming relief to me at the Buzz event was that many of the fellow young professionals attending shared my same reality— they were from another state and needed a hub like Emerge to act as a home base and build their network over a few drinks and casual conversation. And that it does! I left with more business cards than I could count, dinner plans for the following week, and finally, that sense of belonging that I had been looking for.
I believe that the best part of Emerge Tampa Bay and its events like The Buzz is that it fuses the professional sphere with the personal. A misconception might be that events like The Buzz are tired gatherings with people delivering cheesy pitches about their companies/product. That simply could not be further from the truth. The young professionals attending these events want the same things you and I do. They want to be active in their communities while meeting new friends, building new industry contacts and exposing their businesses while learning about others’.
What are you doing to remain active in your community? Possibly more importantly, what are you doing to remain competitive? Let’s face it, showing up to work 9-5 (or 8-8, if we’re being realistic) simply doesn’t cut it anymore. Organizations want their employees to be active in the communities and professional organizations. Emerge offers its members countless opportunities to engage with like-minded young professionals while utilizing valuable community resources and becoming more active in the Tampa area. Emerge has become that competitive edge for me—let it become yours too.