For a municipality of about 700,000 the Greater Rochester Area has an impressive range of opportunities to connect with fellow professionals.
While I have been here for 6 1/2 years, for a good portion of that period I didn’t have a pressing need to network locally. Much of my networking involved other regions like California, Boston area, Germany, France, Finland and St Petersburg in Russia. Over the last months I invested a lot more time in connecting where I live. While at first it seemed that the professional networking centered around Digital Rochester and user groups like RJUG, searching and interviewing local connections revealed many more networks each with a different focus thus together providing you with a complete menu of options.
It took me some time to discover these groups. To enable you to shorten your search time I am sharing what I found. Here’s the run-down:
Good for the plain vanilla business networking. Digital Rochester hosts a general network gathering on the first Tuesday of the month. A good chance to meet pretty much anybody but that is its limit as well: the wall of 200-300 people during the monthly evening can be daunting to scale. My tip to get going: just walk up and start talking with whoever is standing by themselves, and slowly you’ll start to collect familiar faces. Another one: bring somebody!
Digital Rochester also does various seminars. My favorite series is the Thursday morning Rising Stars where local entrepreneurs relate how they got started. This seems to attract a more senior-level audience as well.
The August Group
This may well be one of the best job opportunity networks. It meets in smaller groups led by a moderator at the Bagel Bin. During the group meetings news about job fairs and career advancements is shared. Participants discuss their job hunting approaches and successes. It is a very good resource to quickly build a network. Seems to focus up to mid-level positions but provides good pointers to fellow networks.
This one is present in other regions as well, at least Buffalo, Chicago and the Boston area as far as I know now. Execunet organizes panels with recruiters and others discussing various aspects of the job search and how the web and social media area changing it (you really should have a good profile on LinkedIn). Execunet as the name suggests aims to serve those seeking senior positions.
A Yahoo Groups based network for members to pass news about opportunities about. PeerNet appear to focus on technical and finance positions although others are posted too. I like that joining the group requires writing an introduction email to the group. The group owner has provided quite a nice template to help new members talk about themselves. To me this is very important because often you have no idea or it is very hard to explore who else is part of the network. The ability to mine the membership and make your own connections besides during monthly activities is very valuable.
A group similar to PeerNet. Also requires a reference from an existing member for example. The two may have some overlap in posted opportunities but ABCPNG also lists ones outside the Rochester area.
Rochester Social Media Club
RSMC attracts professionals who use social media (twitter, facebook etc) for their business. This is a bit of a loose circle in the sand and in a way that is its appeal. The monthly gatherings at Label 7 in Pittsford attracts extremely well-connected professionals and so is a good place to upgrade the quality of your network, discuss local business trends and hear about general business opportunities: the self-employment, small-business ratio is high among the audience.
Stands for Rochester Professional Consultants Network. RPCN recently revamped its website and that was really necessary. Mainly seems to attract consultants in the sense of contractors (electrical etc etc), accounting and financial services. Meets on Fridays at the Pittsford Public Library.
Then there is a bunch of user groups good for connecting with fellow technology-minded folk.
The Rochester Java User Group. The name is becoming a bit misleading. Borrowing from GNU: What does RJUG stand for? RJUG is not Java. Recent meetings have discussed Android, JavaFX, Google’s Go language, Erlang, Amazon Web Services and next week Google Web Toolkit. The group meets the second Tuesday of the month at RIT. You can find RJUG on its web site, LinkedIn group and Facebook page. RJUG also twitters.
Rochester’s Linux User Group. LUGOR meets the third Wednesday of the month. This group regularly has intriguing speakers like recently Richard Stallman.
User group for Amazon Web Services. One of the good places to meet the technical power brains of Rochester.
Visual Developers Upstate New York. Appeals to visual software development of any kind. VDUNY meets the fourth Wednesday of the month.
Upstate New York Oracle User Group. This may be now a mandatory user group for many of us to join…
Features mainly to the DBA crowd.
There are other organizations as well like Hi-Tech Rochester, Rochester Top-100 and Greater Rochester Enterprise but I don’t have (yet) direct experience with them.
What are your favorite business networking places in Rochester, what are your thoughts on the ones described here?