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Ready to Network in Fort Lauderdale? Connect With These 3 Groups

In South Florida, you can mix business with pleasure while growing your career.

By Lauren Caggiano on October 13, 2021

Rock climbers scale wall at indoor facility
Jason Nuttle

It’s advice young people often encounter as they start or further their careers: “Bloom where you’re planted.”

Fortunately, for young professionals in Greater Fort Lauderdale, opportunities abound, thanks to several organizations with programming serving this demographic.

If you’ve recently moved to Fort Lauderdale or just looking for new connections, these 3 groups can help you reach your goals.

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Jewish Federation of Broward County

Jewish Federation of Broward County

The Jewish Federation of Broward County is among those in the mix.

“We do different events during the year,” says Sydney Gorodetsky Rubin, the organization’s director of the young leadership division and family engagement. “We’ve transitioned to a virtual format, but pre-COVID, we’d do happy hours, education events, networking events, fundraising events, bowling nights, etc.”

It’s important to them to meet people where they are — literally. That’s why the organization varies locations for the meetups. In the past, for example, they’ve taken place at venues in downtown Fort Lauderdale or in Davie, right off the interstate.

Location, Location …

Fort Lauderdale has some clear advantages for young people who want amenities of a bigger-city life without the hassles, including a walkable and easy to navigate downtown. This helps the Jewish Federation’s cause, because retention allows them to fulfill their mission to fund educational and social service needs.

According to Rubin, the social events catering to young professionals can be a foot in the door. Oftentimes, young talent engages this way and decides they want to get more involved in the federation’s community work. Speaking of engagement, Rubin estimates that the organization has impacted as many as 600 young professionals who run the gamut in terms of professions.

“We have engineers, accountants, attorneys and marketing professionals,” she says. “We have some people who run their own businesses, too. They come from all walks of life. And some people work for other Jewish nonprofits, and they still come to network with our people, as well.”

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Jason Nuttle

Emerge Broward

Networking is at the heart of Emerge Broward, a nonprofit that promotes leadership and personal development to people ages 21-35 in Broward County. Like the Jewish Federation, its social events are often the first touch point.

“These meet-and-greet events are open to nonmembers,” says Kaya Suarez, Emerge Broward’s leadership team co-chair and a director within commercial real estate financial services firm Walker & Dunlop’s property sales group. “And so, that’s really how people first kind of dip their toes into Emerge Broward.”

Young professionals typically hear about the events via social media and word of mouth, he says. The hope is that they get more involved after the initial experience at the socials. According to Suarez, they have four committees — identify, connect, develop and engage — and new members can make an impact through this type of role.

Regardless of the degree of involvement as a member, the barrier to entry is relatively low. Dues are $40 annually and come with various perks. “It’s very affordable, and that’s something that is very important to us,” Suarez says.

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Urban League of Broward County

Urban League of Broward County

The Urban League of Broward County is reaching young people across racial lines. Brenda Morrison serves as the president for the organization’s Young Professionals Network, which works to develop young leaders ages 21 to 40 personally and professionally.

According to Morrison, the organization benefits from being one of 65 professional chapters affiliated with the Urban League movement. This means they can apply best practices that have worked in other markets.

Nina McDowell, who serves as the director of marketing and corporate partnerships, says members benefit from this relationship, too. “It gives them that direct linkage to a national platform and national working relationships, connections,” she says. “Our national headquarters is also very robust when it comes to job opportunities and making sure that our young professionals are equipped to be the next leading generation.”

And if you ask Morrison, there’s no shortage of ways to step up in the community. She appreciates the diversity in causes and ways to make a difference in Greater Fort Lauderdale. “That’s what makes it a great place for young professionals to give back and get connected,” she says.

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