A Guide to 8 of the Best Networking Clubs in Buffalo

Kristen
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In the professional world, how do you see yourself? Are you fresh out of college? Searching for a job? Well established in your career? Just looking to get involved?

You’ve got a good network established, but how do you continue to build connections as your career progresses in your area and professional field?

It’s simple, really: start attending networking events that align with your interests and goals. .

Buffalo has a wide array of networking clubs and professional associations to choose from.  Now that we’ve got your mind on the right track, how do you choose which group is the best for you? We’ve compiled a list of some of the best networking clubs in the Buffalo area.

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Each of these organizations has their own purpose, function, and goals for their members. Deciding which ones are right for you ultimately comes down to your personal and professional preference for fit, subject matter and budget..

We spoke with several local professionals who are members and leaders within local organizations and  outlined the various options to help you decide the best fit for you.

bfl360

 

Buffalo Niagara 360: @BN360

What is it?

BN360 aims to create an inclusive and collaborative network of resources that empower talented individuals to achieve their goals for professional growth and success. The three areas they focus on are networking, leadership development and community engagement. They provide information and resources that not only attract professionals, but also serve to retain those who are already working in the Buffalo area.

“BN360 targets young professionals in the Buffalo Niagara region in all industry sectors. The programming is aimed at those who are up-and-coming not only in their career but also through their involvement in the community. There is no age limit to those wanting to gain professional development and obtain a deeper understanding and connection with the community and how they can get involved.” -Liz Callahan, Workforce Development Manager says.


Who should join: Professionals in the Buffalo area, looking to live in Buffalo, make a career and network with local professionals.

The Perks:

  • Event Fees waived for BN360 events
  • Membership discounts for BN Partnership events
  • Included in all BN360 communications
  • Company name listed on program website (partnership members only)

Events:

When asked what her favorite event held by BN360 is,  Callahan, responded “The first would be Game Changers. We bring in exciting topics that educate people on what we have in the Buffalo Niagara area and meet the people behind the region’s resurgence. You get to hear from the decision-makers and get the inside scoop in an intimate panel and Q&A format. My second is Happy Hour for a Cause; it’s our only pure networking event, but it also is a way for us to highlight and raise money for area nonprofits!”

  • All events run from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
  • March 22: Legal Briefs at Hodgson Russ
  • April 7: Game Changers at Alliance Advisory
  • April 21: Skills for Success at Buffalo Niagara Partnership
  • May 3: Legal Briefs at Hodgson Russ
  • June 2: Game Changers at Alliance Advisory
  • June 16: BN360 Gives Back, Volunteer Connect at Pole Position Raceway

Check out your membership options.

AAF Rebrand_ Final_ RGB

American Advertising Federation (AAF Buffalo): @AAF_Buffalo


What is it?

AAF Buffalo focuses on bringing together communications professional in Western New York. Its goal is to enhance the connections and industry knowledge of the advertising and marketing community through a focus on people’s passions, occupations and experience levels. The group fosters an environment that encourages collaboration, education, networking and social events for members.

As you could’ve guessed, this one’s probably our favorite.

According to Scott Bartels, President of AAF Buffalo “Delivering on our mission statement starts with our board of directors.  The board for AAF Buffalo is made up of a wide range of professionals who work in different areas of our industry and include agency employees, corporate marketing and freelances.  This group reflects the make-up of our membership and positions us to understand what is important to our members and provide events that they find value in.”

Who should join:
Advertising and marketing professionals or students, living or working in Western New York.the Buffalo/WNY area.

The Perks:

  • Access to the largest network of communications professionals in Western New York
  • Automatic membership to the American Advertising Federation (AAF)
  • Discounts on events, including AdLab, guest speakers, speed networking, Ad Week, and ADDY Awards
  • Eligibility to compete in the ADDY Awards
  • First-ever member appreciation event
  • Free postings on our job board, valued at $30 per posting
  • Expedited notification of all Club events—when something happens, you hear it first

Events:

Looking ahead for the rest of this year, and into next, we asked Bartels if there was anything new and exciting coming up for AAF Buffalo. “Our spring speaker event is  on April 21.  We will be welcoming Anthony Shop from Social Driver in Washington, D.C. to speak on the topic ‘People are the new channel’.  The topic centers on the fact that the days of marketing campaigns focused on broadcasting content through a handful of powerful channels are gone. It isn’t a website or social network that serves as the new communication channel, rather, the people themselves are the channel and successful modern campaigns are embracing the new reality where people choose what content to consume.

In May, we will offer our second member-only skillshop. The topic is Digital Advertising and will focus on some of the basics of the most popular forms of digital advertising, including paid search and social media advertising. This summer we will have our first member appreciation event, a great way to end our club year and celebrate our members.

In 2016-17, we will continue our great programming with more guest speakers, skillshops and networking events.”

  • April 9: 2016 Student Portfolio Review at Daemen College, 9:30-3 p.m.

Click here for more information regarding membership.

gdi

Girl Develop It: @gdiBuffalo

What is it?
Girl Develop It is a nonprofit organization for women who have an interest in improving their skills or learning more about web development and mobile apps. The group provides members with the opportunity to take classes in a judgment-free environment. They provide hands-on programs that are designed for women of all age and skill levels who are willing to learn.

Who should join:

Women interested in learning web and software development in a supportive educational environment.

The Perks:

  • A judgment-free zone for women to learn more about web and software development.
  • Provides in-person classes and community support for women in the Western New York area.
  • Helps women of diverse backgrounds achieve their technology goals while building confidence in their careers.

Events:

  • March 29: 3-year anniversary party and fundraiser

smc
Social Media Club: @SMCBuffalo

What is it?
Social Media Club (SMC) Buffalo is where innovators in Western New York meet to share, engage and collaborate with the community on all topics social media related. The club enables you to explore your personal and professional passions by helping you connect with a community of peers.

Who should join:

People interested in social media, marketing, and technology in the Buffalo area.

The Perks:

  • The ability to connect with other professionals in the area whose interests and focus are similar.
  • Insider opportunity to learn information and shared knowledge of the group.
  • Receive special invitations to members-only events.
  • Get discounts to workshops and events that are organized by Social Media Club.

Become a member.

prsa

PRSA: @PRSABuffNiag

What is it?
As the preeminent association for public relations and communications professionals, PRSA empowers a diverse community of members at every stage of their career with the knowledge and resources to advocate for the profession, achieve ethical and professional excellence, and drive the strategic outcomes of their organizations.

Who should join:
If you spend a substantial portion of your time working in the public relations field, or teaching or administering a PR curriculum at a college or university, PRSA is right up your alley.

The Perks:

  • Hone your skills and learn new communications strategies, tactics and trends through innovative programming.
  • Exchange ideas, share experiences and expand your network of contacts at chapter meetings and events.
  • Showcase your exceptional projects and programs through the Excalibur Awards and elevate your standing with your peers, managers and clients.
  • Share your expertise through chapter leadership opportunities.
  • Stay in tune with public relations developments and job openings through an e-newsletter website and social media.

Events:

  • April 9: APR Express Class at Empower, 11:30-3:30 p.m.
  • April 21: Members-only Happy Hour at Remington Tavern, 5-7 p.m.
  • June 22: 27th Annual Excalibur Awards at Tralf Music Hall

We offer a wide variety of professional development programs and networking events, but a recent favorite was our “Dramatic Readings of Bad Press Releases” event, where we invited members of the local media to share some of the worst story pitches they’ve ever received, live, on stage at Helium Comedy Club,” said Kevin Manne, PRSA Buffalo Niagara Chapter President, in an interview. “It was a great way to network with the media and other PR pros, have fun and learn some tips right from area journalists. Also, I always look forward to our Excalibur Awards ceremony each summer, where we highlight the area’s best professional PR work and our brightest PR professionals.”

Attention PR people: This is for you.

nywom

Women Inc: @BNCWomenInc

What is it?

Women Inc. is helping women to work together to advance themselves within their career. It helps to foster events where women from all different professions can get together and talk about their experiences and have fun networking together.

“We empower women personally, professionally and politically, offering an opportunity for women of all ages, in all stages of life, and in any number of professions to come together and network and learn from one another.” – Pauline Hoffman, President

Who should join:

Any working woman in a professional environment looking to gain knowledge, advice, and network with other professional women in the area.

The Perks:

  • Network: connect with professional women who are looking to make a difference in the Buffalo/Niagara area.
  • Engage: listen, participate and explore stories by women that encourage bravery and help achieve personal and professional goals.
  • New perspective: share your experiences while learning about other women in order to discover new opportunities.

Events:

  • First Wednesday of each month (except January, July and August) at the Protocol Restaurant on Transit Road in Williamsville.  All are welcome to join.

Ladies, get your membership.

infotechwny

InfoTech WNY: @InfoTechWNY

What is it?

InfoTech is an all-volunteer Board that focuses on the use of Technology in Western New York.

“Connect, Grow, and Thrive”- Kelly Flicinski, Secretary & Marketing Chair

InfoTech WNY brings together professionals throughout the WNY area who have an interest in technology, in both their personal and professional lives, and helps nurture this interest and broaden their knowledge base on the subject. You don’t have to work in a technology field, but just knowing the importance of changing technology in everyday lives is enough to make you a prospective member.

“Our mission is to serve as WNY’s professional organization promoting technology through networking, education, recognition and career enrichment – and we do just that,” notes Kelly Flicinski, secretary and marketing chair. “We hold events throughout the year to help educate and connect our community with one another. Several times we have witnessed an InfoTech WNY introduction that turned into new hires, business deals and strong relationships!”

Who should join:
Secretary and Marketing Chair, Kelly Flicinski, shares her take on who’s the ideal person to join InfoTech WNY. “Our target member audience is anyone in WNY who is interested in any form of technology (which we all use daily) and is looking to meet new companies or professionals and/or looking to grow their company or organization. It is exciting because we are not limited to one industry. I am a marketing professional and found great value in InfoTech WNY!”

The Perks:

  • Networking Events: Bringing professionals together for food, fun and quality networking.
  • Professional Development: Keeping members updated on the latest in technology through seminars, educational material and events.
  • Student Outreach: Working to retain and attract students looking to work in a technology-based field and foster a relationship between students and members.
  • The BETA Awards. “Since 1999, InfoTech WNY has presented the Annual BETA Awards. Last year more than  560 attendees  enjoyed the trade show, awards dinner and after-party at the Buffalo Convention Center. This is “THE” technology event of the year in WNY.
  • Job Board: Looking for a job in IT? This is the place to look! Looking for an IT person at your business? We’ll hook you up with excellent IT employees.

Events:

  • April 14th: BETAS (Buffalo Emerging Technology Award Showcase) at Riverworks Buffalo, starts at 4:30 p.m.

Techy professionals, we’re talking to you.

buf

Creative Mornings: @cmbuf

What is it?

A breakfast lecture series. CreativeMornings brings together creative professionals in your area to learn from each other, ask questions and mingle over free breakfast. They foster an environment that allows for creativity and learning for all types of professionals. They help these creative professionals to work together and build relationships.

When asked, “Why CreativeMornings?”, Buffalo host, Kelly Atkinson replied, “…because you can’t beat free breakfast and inspiration with a bunch of awesome people!”

“The global CreativeMornings manifesto reads, ‘Everyone is creative. Everyone is welcome.’ It’s this openness and support that drives creativity and us.” -Kelly Atkinson, CreativeMornings Buffalo Host

Who should join: Anyone who is part of the creative community (and enjoys free coffee and breakfast).

 

The Perks:

  • Gain insights and best practices relevant to your work.
  • Make valuable connections.
  • Ability to use what you learn in the talks to create shareable online content on behalf of our company.
  • Bring back lessons and best practices to share with teams.
  • Free coffee AND breakfast. No brainer.
  • Group talks, with question and answer sessions, with the best creative minds in your area.

Events:

“We host a monthly speaker series every second Friday to connect, intersect, and celebrate our striking, but at times, fragmented creative community. We hope to build an environment for mindful people of diverse disciplines to gather and grow together, sharing with each other and in turn, with other cities.” – Kelly Atkinson, CreativeMornings Buffalo Host

Signup for a profile to register for these free events! 

What are some local organizations that you’re a part of? We’d love the chat! Tweet us your thoughts @QuinlanCompany.

 

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