About five years ago, I was living half in Alexandria, Va., and half in Annapolis. However, I was in the process of making a career change and wound up taking a job with MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate as a commercial real estate broker.

I remember my thought process like it was yesterday. As soon as I hung up the phone with MacKenzie, there was no question. The company wanted me to work in Howard County, and I decided, since I was an outsider (originally from northern N.J.), I was going to move there and just figure it out.

This was my first outside sales job, and I was expected to meet local companies, make relationships and help grow the company business. This was the fourth time in eight years I had moved to a new city/area, and the more I do it, the more I realize how easy it is.

Rubbing Elbows

A co-worker of mine had told me about the Young Professionals Network (YPN) program of the Howard County Chamber of Commerce, and I learned there was a networking event at Eggspectation the following week. I decided to sign up. After all, my goal was to meet people, not necessarily go and get business.

As I walked into the event, I was a little overwhelmed by how many people were already there. But, within 10 minutes, I had probably a dozen or so people walk up to me, introduce themselves, learn that I was brand new to the area and then help by introducing me to other members of the YPN.

By the time the night was over, I had met more people that I could have possibly remembered, and there was no doubt, I was signing up for the next event.

Jump ahead a few events, and I started to realize the impact attending these events was having. Suddenly, I was meeting other young but seasoned professionals who had been in the area for years, who had deep roots in the community. I met business owners and learned about the business sectors and their intricate roles in the economic development of Howard County. I would find myself around politicians, directors of prestigious nonprofits, entrepreneurs, etc. And it was around this time I realized that I needed to get as involved as possible.

Return on Involvement

The first committee I served on assisted with the marketing for the YPN. We would meet once a month and discuss changes to the social media pages, new events coming up and ways to keep the group out in front of members. About six months later, I was elected onto the board of directors and asked to serve as chair of the Membership Committee.

Before me it had been a one-person committee, but with enough work for half-a-dozen people to handle. I wound up putting together a team of three to four people who found value in dedicating about four hours a month toward the effort of increasing member awareness, bringing in new members, raising engagement levels, etc.

The following year, I took over the Sponsorship Committee, putting together a team that increased our yearly sponsors from three to five. The following year I served as treasurer, then I was vice chair, and next month I will have the honor of serving as the chair of YPN.

Over the last couple of years, YPN has grown its board from eight to about 18 members. The board is composed of a team of highly motivated and energetic young professionals that live, work and/or play in Howard County. There will be some new initiatives coming out this year that I think will help to shift the YPN to a new level, with more educational seminars, networking opportunities and philanthropic efforts, all ultimately aimed to further develop the Chamber’s young professionals.

Dave Sciamarelli is with MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate. He can be reached at [email protected].