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Source: Youngstown Social Network
At least 100 young professionals showed up for the inaugural meeting.
By VIRGINIA ROSS SHANK
YOUNGSTOWN — Mastering the art of networking is crucial for anyone looking to survive in today’s job market.
Joseph Carrabbia of the Youngstown Social Network and his partners, Hanna Kassis and Morgan Tondo, said they learned that fact early on in their careers, along with the importance of cultivating relationships in the business world. For that reason, the trio established the networking group earlier this year.
“Surviving in this world depends a lot on who you know, but it’s also vital for those same people to know you,” explained Carrabbia, who operates a travel agency out of his home in Austintown.
“A lot of success is based on connecting, and that’s what we’re providing — an opportunity to connect with the people you need to get to know.”
At least 100 young professionals — most of them in their early 20s to late 30s — decided to take Carrabbia, Kassis and Tondo up on their offer to mix and mingle during the Youngstown Social Network’s inaugural event downtown at the Covelli Centre.
The two-hour meet-and-greet last week featured three rounds of networking along with a mingling session. Much like the concept of “speed dating,” five or six participants gathered around each of about a dozen tables and spent eight minutes talking to one another about themselves. They then moved on to another table and another group of people.
Employers came equipped with business cards; job hunters arrived with r sum s and references in hand.
For Leslie Cusano, 21, of Boardman, a recent graduate of Kent State University, the gathering offered a chance to expand her horizons and meet professionals she otherwise might not have had an opportunity to meet.
“I think the more people you know, the better your chances of being successful,” Cusano said. “It’s a great opportunity to get your name and your r sum out there. The more you can do to make yourself and your abilities known, the better.”
Participants were also able to engage in a follow-up round during which they met one-on-one with prospective employees/employers they wanted to get to know a little better.
“I think this has been pretty successful because people keep talking to each other and haven’t even stopped long enough to hear what we’re telling them,” said Kassis, a Girard resident working for U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th. “That’s a good thing.”
Kassis said a fundamental aspect of the network is the team’s goal to encourage young people to stay in their own communities if possible.
“A lot of people think they have to leave to find a good job, but that’s not always the case,” she said.
“There are employers here looking for qualified employees. We’re hoping to bridge the gap between them and bring some of them face to face through events such as this.
“The Youngstown area is a great community, and there are great opportunities here, but more people need to know about them. You have to look for an opportunity, but you also have to know it exists before you can pursue it.”
Carly Danko, 22, of Canfield said she wanted to get to know people before graduating from pharmacy school in 2011.
“I don’t think it’s ever too early or that it ever hurts to get to know what’s out there, what opportunities there are,” she said.
“I just wanted to see who would be here and what I could learn about networking and making contacts. It can’t hurt.”
Although the networking group targets young people, there is no age limit, and events are open to everyone. The group plans to have similar gatherings throughout the year.
“There is a lot of power in networking, and we believe in people helping people to make the right connection, to succeed and build a better community by working together,” Carrabbia said.
“That’s our main goal, helping each other and helping our community.”