Oh Chicago! Frank Sinatra professed his love for you in a song, and city lovers from all over know that you are home to the best of many worlds — sports, business, culture, food, you name it. So if you’ve fallen in love with the Windy City and are planning on moving to Chicago, here are our top tips for building your professional network and advancing your career so that you can come to call it your home.
Whether you consider yourself a ‘young professional’, you’re looking for others in the tech industry, or you’re interested in a more “happy hour” feel, there’s a meetup geared toward your niche. Chicago has a wide breadth of options that create space for meeting people in person, which we all know is the best way to build networks. So take some time before moving to identify a couple MeetUps that you can attend in your first few weeks in the city, and you’ll set yourself up well for professional networking in Chicago.
For a small membership fee, you’ll get access to year-round networking and social events, discounts on professional development and training events, and free admission to their members-only events like the CEO Breakfasts. The average age of this group, says the website, is 28 — so you’ll find other young professionals who are also looking to advance their careers. Overall, it’s a well-organized way to start meeting people in Chicago.
Chicago is known for its startup culture. So if you’re relocating to Chicago with visions of a new venture dancing in your head, get on the list and attend the monthly Pitch Nights. Held at the Chase Auditorium, would-be entrepreneurs pitch their ideas for new products and services to get the word out and, hopefully, get the ball rolling. They also host weekly invite-only happy hours at rotating venues around the city, so you’ll also have the opportunity to meet other like-minded visionaries and professionals in a more social setting.
BNC’s Happy Hour
Business Network Chicago has a whole host of industry and focus-specific sub-groups, but perhaps the most popular and sociable is the Happy Hour Social. Open to the public, the event is held on the fourth Tuesday of every month and experts are brought in to discuss a variety of topics from how to be a better networker to using social media. The overall emphasis, though, is on improving networking skills — so come with your business cards and get ready to polish your elevator pitch.
This national organization has chapters in most major cities, and for a good reason — they have figured out how to create networking events that are fun, social, well-attended and productive places to make connections. They also host their events at trendy bars and restaurants, ensuring that the atmosphere is right for making a few new friends as well as professional networking in Chicago.
Calling themselves the “largest location-based supergroup in the U.S.A.”, LinkedIn Chicago hosts monthly networking events at some of Chicago’s finest venues like The Trophy Room and the Godfrey Hotel. They boast over 100,000 members of the group, so if you are an active LinkedIn user and are ready to market yourself more widely using this online network, request to join LInC before relocating to Chicago. Get your name out there, take part in the online boards and discussions, and give yourself a head start.
If you’re looking for more information on finding a great place to live in Chicago as a young professional, take a look at this blog post. And while you’re at it? Make sure you’ve hired one of Unpakt’s listed top-notch full-service movers to make your relocation smooth and easy.