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Building Santa Rosa’s Young Professionals Network

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013 | Posted by

By JESSICA ZIMMER / Santa Rosa Correspondent

Young professionals in Santa Rosa are learning from one another and community leaders through the Santa Rosa Regional Young Professionals Network.

The Network, a division of the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce, welcomes individuals of all ages, but specifically targets those from 21 to 40 years old who live and work in Sonoma County.

Allison McNeil talks at the Dec. 18 Morning Buzz event (Jessica Zimmer)

Allison McNeil talks at the Dec. 18 Morning Buzz event (Jessica Zimmer)

The Network typically hosts 3 to 4 events a month, among them “Morning Buzz,” a short interactive morning presentation; “Bigwig Lunch,” a lunchtime meeting with a leader in the community; and “Business Aficionado Social Hour,” an after-work mixer.

Tiffany Krankemann, the Network’s 2013 chair, said, “Our focus is to develop and connect young professionals in the community…to build relationships, both personal and business.”

The Network is currently in its 6th year and has approximately 300 members.

Krankemann said the Network allows recent arrivals and those from Sonoma County to bond with one another.

“Some of the biggest issues now in Sonoma County are talent retention and attraction,” said Krankemann.

Kelly Bass Seibel, director of workforce development for the Chamber, said, “It’s a lot more likely that a company will have an employee stay if (the employee) has a social life in the community.”

Seibel said there is a need for younger workers to connect.

“In Santa Rosa, a lot of times when you get community leaders, they’ve known each other for 30, 40 years. (The Network is) how you…give people the opportunity to start friendships that ultimately develop into business relationships,” said Seibel.

At the Dec. 18 Morning Buzz event, Allison McNeil, a Network member and attorney at Anderson, Zeigler, Disharoon, Gallagher, & Gray, spoke about interest-based negotiation.

“(When negotiating), identify the positions. Then identify the interests underlying the positions,” said McNeil.

“Instead of fighting over the pie, see if you can increase the pie.”

Network members responded to McNeil’s talk enthusiastically. Several proposed ways to negotiate for a raise or talk to a spouse about how to agree on the cost of holiday gifts for family.

Mirjam de Rijk, a Network member, said, “I love networking with the group, Morning Buzz always has a presentation with good info. It’s not so big, so you really get to talk to people.”

Anthony Fernandez, who is signing up to be a Network member, said, “It’s part of my New Year’s resolution to be part of the Young Professionals Network and be a part of the (Santa Rosa) Chamber of Commerce. (The event today) went really well.”

Paul Brunetta, a Network member, said attending events like the Morning Buzz helps him build personal relationships.

“I like being in the street and being able to run into people that (I) know. It’s about friendships and meeting people my own age,” said Brunetta.

The majority of the Network’s members are employees of a business that belongs to the Chamber of Commerce.

Krankemann said a growing number of the Network’s members also either own their own business or are interested in starting their own business.

The funds for the Network’s events come from member dues as well as sponsors. Local sponsors include the Sonoma State University School of Business and Economics, Redwood Credit Union, and Argent Bank.

Krankemann said the Chamber has been an instrumental part of the Network’s development. The Chamber works closely with the Network’s Board to develop its events and goals.

“We always think the people in the Young Professionals Network are the ones who are going to lead the community in the future. (Our work) is about building those circles now,” said Krankemann.

For more information about the Santa Rosa Young Professionals Network, visit santarosaypn.org.

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Ann Hutchinson is our Santa Rosa correspondent.
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