The saying goes “your network is your net worth” which for some of us still climbing that ladder of success, aspiring for a bigger role with even bigger pay and influence, it might look more like a Kate Spade coin pouch full of pennies than a Fendi peekaboo tote, but not to worry. Navigating who’s who and what in Chicago can be difficult at times, especially for those that are transplants to the city or in the midst of a drastic career change, but if one of your goals this new year is to increase your network, get in there with the “business elite” or if we’re being honest, find a prospective partner in a vetted space, then we have 5 places to do just that in Chicago.
If you missed the Annual Economic Outlook Luncheon or the Chicago Booth economic Outlook presentation(1/20), be sure to include in your calendar these 5 places to help you increase your network.
Our selections reflects those that are not by invitation only per say, because let’s face it not everyone is connected to Neal Zucker, Mellody Hobson or JB Pritzker but we all need to start somewhere. Good luck!
1) CITY CLUB CHICAGO
WHAT IS IT? “The City Club of Chicago is a non-profit, non-partisan organization whose members include prominent business, civic, and government leaders in Chicago. The organization attracts those interested in civic responsibility, public issues, open political debate, and networking opportunities. Founded in 1903, it is the longest-running civic forum in Chicago. The mission of the City Club of Chicago is to provide a forum for the discussion of civic and public affairs in Chicago, the metropolitan area and the state of Illinois.”
Though most of their programs tend to run more on the political side, it draws a gathering of some of the city’s movers and shakers whether top tier or almost there. Last year’s programming included talks from the likes of GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump, Chicago Blackhawks Chairman & Wirtz Corporation President Rocky Wirtz, Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama Valerie Jarrett to name a few.
So far a few of their upcoming programming with IL Senator Dick Durbin (2/5), Joyce Foundation President Ellen Alberding (1/28), Terry Mazany President & CEO of The Chicago Community Trust (4/27) have already sold out, though there are still some great talks lined up. There is a reception ahead of the actual luncheon so be sure you come on time, with business cards and a general awareness of the speaker/topic to be discussed. MORE INFO
Attire: No need for power suit. For guys non khaki slacks, a nice shirt and blazer, tie optional. For the ladies, wrap dress, or a separates situation and don’t forget to wear a watch.
2) THE EXECUTIVES’ CLUB OF CHICAGO
WHAT IS IT? “The Executives’ Club is Chicago’s premier membership organization and business forum. For more than one hundred years, The Club has been a valued resource for Chicago’s business leaders – connecting members, providing opportunities for strategic relationship development, access to intellectual exchange and world class speakers, and enhanced exposure to the broader business community.”
The Executives Club is a less stuffier club than say ECC, that seems to be more adaptive of the changing demographic climate. Through their Leadership Circle they give high potential next gen executives the opportunity to network with experienced leaders and mentorship. Membership requires nomination by a current member but if you don’t know a member, attending these events open to non-members as well is best way to begin. Their next event on Tuesday January 26 is geared towards their Leadership Circle future leaders and its titled MANAGING ACROSS THE GENERATIONS.
Attire: Smart pencil skirt black or a pop of color and a blouse. Going solo, wear something of a conversation piece like a bright necklace, fun shoes or socks.
Networking Reception: 5:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Program: 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Post-Program Networking: 7:00 – 7:30 p.m.
YL Members: Complimentary MORE INFO
3) THE CHICAGO NETWORK
WHAT IS IT? “The Chicago Network (TCN) is an organization of Chicago’s most distinguished professional women. TCN creates empowering relationships for women leaders that enable its members to increase their impact on their organizations and the community at large through peer networking, mutual support and issue awareness.”
Last year we asked Chicago Network President Kate Bensen to share some life lessons from the C-Suite with us because who better to ask that the leader of the organization that has the ear of some of Chicago’s power women. The organization will honor Mellody Hobson, who we hope you’ve heard of at this point but if you haven’t she’s an uber power player in Chicago who’s appeared in everything from Vogue, Vanity Fair, WSJ and more, in April. She will be joined in conversation by the Dean of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University Sally Blount, also another major power player. It may seem like months away but it will be here before you know it. If springing for a $250 ticket is not in the plan right now, start saving up and get your tickets by March, at least before it sells out. MORE INFO
Attire: Boucle jacket over a shift dress or something along the lines of that.
4) CHICAGO IDEAS
WHAT IS IT? “Chicago Ideas is a movement built on one core belief: When a broad spectrum of thinkers and instigators share ideas, we have the power to transform our world.”
Chicago Ideas, the TEDX like brainchild of Brad Keywell headed by Jessica Malkin has built itself as a cool think tank of sorts with their signature event Chicago Ideas Week in October but throughout the year they hold other events and also have a Co-op of community driven individuals that you can apply to. Their upcoming event will be a conversation with respected music executive LA Reid in February. Get info and tickets HERE
5) ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO EVENING ASSOCIATES’ AFTER DARK
WHAT IS IT? “The Evening Associates is a group of young professional Art Institute members, ages 21–40, who enjoy a full schedule of exciting programs and benefits.”
If your idea of networking takes place with heavy bass, chill vibes and such, consider attending the ‘After Dark’ event series hosted by the Evening Associates of the Art Institute. Their event, which always sells out, draws quite the crowd considering the bar situation is cash only. Come for the art stay for the music and people. This isn’t an in your face networking, super gripping hand shake type; Its chill, its realaxed its fun. Attire: Fun, the more conversation piecy it is the better especially since the events are themed on an exhibit going on in the museum. MORE INFO
pronounced: Boh-la-jee, like the Bellagio but w/o the O. SLC Founder and Editor, loves to write about topics at the intersection of career and lifestyle for today's young professional and future leaders.