By Matt Britt
After finding ways to adapt for nearly a year and a half, Rutland Young Professionals held an in-person mixer at the Lake Bomoseen Lodge and Taproom on July 27. To see the faces of more than 50 fellow young professionals together again was truly powerful. It’s likely that there were fewer hugs and handshakes than at past gatherings, but the vibrancy of conversation and connection was as strong as ever.
Our hosts were gracious enough to allow a number of guests to stay nearly an hour longer than the posted timeframe. In our “plugged-in” digital world, that collective desire to keep talking was a powerful reminder that there is strength in congregation. RYP had a similar experience in April, where a virtual Friday evening “Cocktails in Quarantine” lasted three times longer than initially anticipated — many of the attendees were new to the area, and two new RYP members who participated in that event have since joined our board of directors.
There’s no doubt that video conferencing, social media and other technological advances made it possible for everyone to pivot when everything turned upside down. With that said, “social networking” can also seem to lack both components of its name as of late. As we look to navigate through whatever’s next, it’s apparent that good things can happen when you simply show up.
So let’s think of social networking in a simplified way for a moment. We all lead such busy lives, that even finding an hour after a workday to mix and mingle can feel like an Olympic event. Just the word networking can be intimidating for many professionals, regardless of how long they’ve been part of the workforce. Yet, connections made as young professionals naturally evolve as our careers progress. What might seem more like a casual friendship at the moment (social), may be the key to unlocking a door down the road (networking). In those moments when being “connected” in the community becomes more and more valuable in our careers, the time we’ve spent getting to know our neighbors will have already done some of the most important work for us.
Think of every event you attend as an opportunity to meet someone new. Challenge the long-held assumption that it’s hard to make new friends as you get older. Seek out the stranger standing quietly and make them feel welcome — they attended this event for the same reason you did. Treat each conversation as an opportunity to be helpful — whether it’s making a connection or recommending a new restaurant. Seek out someone else’s perspective and try to learn something new. Make some time to volunteer. Naturally, we’d love it if you wanted to join Rutland Young Professionals as a member or assist with one of our many committees — but we also encourage you to get involved with other groups and organizations that speak to you.
If health guidelines for gatherings are adjusted over the coming weeks and months, RYP will certainly remain ready to follow along and continue to adapt our events to help ensure the safety of our members and communities. In the meantime, we’re very excited to be heading up the mountain in August, as we look forward to hosting another in-person mixer on the patio at Preston’s in the Killington Grand Hotel on Aug. 24 from 6-8 p.m. We do ask that any attendees who are not fully vaccinated please wear a mask, and if you are feeling ill, we ask that you please stay home — and we’ll see you at a future event.
Matt Britt serves on the board of directors of Rutland Young Professionals. He is a digital & graphic designer for Heritage Family Credit Union.