It's Who You Know

“It’s not what you know but who you know that makes the difference”. ~ Anonymous

Are you just starting off as a young leader and want to know what it takes to be successful in your career? Did you just graduate from high school or college and need some advice for navigating the sea that is a job with endless possibilities. Perhaps you're even thinking about a career with the Y but don't know where to begin?

For many of us who have a little experience in the work force, it's not unusual to walk into an elevator or down the hallway and see a colleague that looks familiar yet you’ve never engaged in conversation nor do you know their name. Does this sound familiar?  Well, a group from the YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) in Chicago may know what you're going through.

Meet ADEL (Advancing, Developing, Emerging Leaders).

This team of young leaders decided to do something about that and hosted their first Speed Networking Event. This opportunity enabled staff from all leadership levels acquainted with their colleagues that they see every day but do not always have the opportunity to talk to one-on-one.

“Starting a conversation could be challenging for some, so we wanted to provide a structured yet fun environment for networking” – Eric Sera / ADEL Steering Committee Chair

Participants were given preparation materials prior to the event to make the most out of their experience. These materials included an article on Speed Networking and professional development questions. Participants were free to use the provided questions, their own, or both. There was also a “Fun Bowl” available at each station that contained random non-business related questions.   

They had great participation from all levels within their organization. The energy in the room was electric with eagerness and excitement as new connections were made. In the end, they heard lots of great feedback from participants. The attendees had a great time getting to know staff they see in hallways, at their all-staff meetings, and in their lounge but never took the time to get to know. At Y-USA, ADEL wants a culture where they know one another, take the time to talk, create new networks, and foster a feeling of community.  To realize this vision, it starts with all of us to help shape the kind of culture.

But no matter what your work experience has been like and what company you look for, young leaders all across the country can benefit by sharing networking and relationship building advice, so we can all thrive and become our best selves on the job. 

For more information about how Team ADEL pulled this off, please email


Tags: This Week in Young Leaders, Leadership, Leaders, mentors, networking, careers, jobs, employment, Y-USA, the y, YMCA, Millennials, Generation Y, Generation X, high school, college, advice, wisdom

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