“Where can a young professional create a personal relationship with a community leader? Is there somewhere to simply ask questions and learn more about particular community leaders in a non-intimidating and intimate environment? “
These were questions that I remember asking myself a few years ago before I joined Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana as a member. I found the answer to these questions when I researched more about YLNI and ended up joining because I was very intrigued by the View from the Top and Power Lunch programs. I became a member because I was interested in learning more about community leaders and how they got to where they are today. What I didn’t realize is how easy it would be to access these leaders and their willingness to share their experiences with young professionals like myself.
My firsthand experience with this was when I signed up to be a part of the Power Lunch series. I remember that I was able to select between four well known community leaders in which myself and four other YLNI members would have the privilege of meeting with once a month for four months. Over those next four months we met with this community leader and were able to share experiences and ask questions. What I found most interesting was that the leader asked just as many questions of us as we did of them. By doing this we all felt that we really were on a personal level with this individual and that they really did care about what we had to say. This gave us the opportunity to build a lasting relationship with the community leader in a way that I didn’t expect. It has been three years, and I still keep in touch with this community leader and know that if I ever have a question about anything I can ask them. Power Lunches are a great way to create that personal relationship with someone who can be a mentor and advisor to you throughout your career.
Power Lunches were the answer to my first question above, and View from the Top would be the answer to my second question. VFTT events are a great way to learn more about community leaders and entrepreneurs from various professional backgrounds in an intimate setting. I remember going to my first few VFTT events and listening to the stories behind some local entrepreneurs who explained how they got to where they were today, along with the successes and struggles they endured along their journey. In a more recent VFTT event that I attended there was group of community leaders in a panelist type setting, who discussed the continued growth and momentum of downtown Fort Wayne. What I didn’t expect was them expressing the importance of the young professionals in the room, and how YLNI members have become such a valued voice within the community, as well as an instrumental part of the continued growth and momentum in the region.Over the past three years these two questions were easily answered by joining YLNI as a member and attending Power Lunches and View from the Top Events. These are just two programs that YLNI has to offer with many others depending on what it is you are looking for as a young professional. I personally have gained many valued relationships, and more than anything, friendships with young professionals like myself who I can continue to grow with for the years to come.
Justin Hayes, Vice President of Leadership Development