About 60 young professionals gathered together Wednesday night at 10below in the OXFORD hotel to help shape the future of the Bend Chamber’s Young Professionals Network.
“How is it that we can motivate the young people in this town to pursue their dreams?” asked Jack Newkirk, sales manager for the OXFORD and the new YPN Council chair. “That’s really what tonight is about: making the right connections, finding the right coaches and mentors and then finding the right opportunities, like funding, in order to make your dreams comes true as young professionals.”
Newkirk said the first part of reaching those dreams is through making relationships. To help build those relationships, he broke the crowd into four groups three different times based on industry, workplace location and recreational hobbies.
Once they were separated by their hobbies, Newkirk asked the four different groups to work together to craft a mission statement for YPN. He explained the purpose of the exercise was to take all four mission statements and generate one new mission statement for YPN’s future.
“Congeal around the whiteboards,” he said. “Crowdsource your brain to take YPN in its next direction.”
The attendees began brainstorming different words that described what they would like to see out of a YPN program. Then, they collaborated to formulate a single sentence.
Whiteboards displayed words and phrases including: fun, progressive, networking, mentorship, education, community engagement, problem-solving synergy, libation incentives, leveraging referrals and exploration of uncharted territories.
“Cultivating relationships, broadening horizons and solving problems” was the first mission statement shared with the group.
“Do more, get more and be more,” said Newkirk in summary of the second mission statement. “Getting more money, getting more opportunities, doing more as a group, interacting more with each other and collectively creating a better environment in this town.”
Nikki Bilello, an attendee and the vice president of sales for TT Marketing, said the key is collaborating with each other, not looking at other professionals as competition.
“How do you really network? Is it getting together and having a drink, eating a piece of fruit and shaking hands?” Bilello said. “Or, is it about how do we come together as a strong community and work together to build and make our dreams come true?”
Newkirk said another key to YPN’s success is tapping into the community’s resources.
“We recognize the fact that we can’t have a young professional network that’s effective, if we don’t have the leadership, guidance, coaching and mentoring of some of our more senior business leaders in town,” he said.
The collective brainpower in that one room was amazing, said Robin Rogers, senior vice president of programs and events for the Bend Chamber.
“We brought all these future leaders of our community together and really tapped into their needs, their ideas and their thoughts for the future of YPN. Who better to help us shape and mold this event, than the young professionals we’re putting it on for?” Rogers said. “These ideas will propel us forward in creating a platform for young people to engage, connect and strengthen not only their businesses, but our community.”