Sterling Heights

Networking opportunities abound with reinvigorated Metro Detroit Young Professionals group

After a hiatus due to COVID-19, the Metro Detroit Young Professionals (YoPros) group, run by the Sterling Heights Regional Chamber of Commerce (SHRCC), is back to hosting networking events for local businesspeople. 

YoPros invites professionals from all fields and is dedicated to “building a community of the next generation of leaders in Metro Detroit through mentorship, education, and networking to make Metro Detroit a better place for businesses to grow and serve.” 

The group is open to anyone aged 21 through 40 — a range that intends for older professionals to connect with and mentor younger professionals to help them early in their careers. 

Marissa Russo, the marketing and communications coordinator for the city of Sterling Heights, was looking for an opportunity to make connections in the area when she discovered YoPros. 

“During the pandemic, [YoPros] definitely saw kind of a lull,” Russo says. “There weren't a lot of events happening. I think it kind of lost its original following, so I had approached the Chamber, asking, ‘is YoPros happening? Is there still any activity?’ They said there wasn't, so we kind of talked about how can we revamp it, rebrand it, and get people interested again in networking and coming out to events.” 

To reorganize the group, the SHRCC decided to create an executive board to help steer the group and plan events. The SHRCC offered Russo the position of chair, which she accepted, alongside a team of five other local professionals who make up the executive board. 

“[YoPros] had been really robust pre-pandemic, but it didn't do so great through the pandemic,” says Tom Whittaker, the program and events manager of SHRCC. “It wasn't a group that transitioned well into Zoom. I think this is very much a hands-on group.”

Tom Whittaker, the program and events manager of SHRCC.
YoPros hosted their comeback event in late February — a Winter Mixer at Brown Iron Brewhouse in Washington Township — which was a casual opportunity for people to share some appetizers and build relationships.

Professionals do not need to be SHRCC members to attend events. To get involved, the YoPros Facebook group provides event updates and registration information. 

“It's an open organization,” Russo says. [We are] always looking for people to come out and join us with our events. Don't feel if you missed the first one you can't come to the second. We're really open to people coming out and just having a good time and making connections.” 

Sherwood Brewing Company in Shelby Township, site of the next YoPros Professional Branding Mixer on Thursday, May 19.
The group plans to host their next Professional Branding Mixer on Thursday, May 19 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Sherwood Brewing Company in Shelby Township. Guests will receive a free headshot, have the opportunity to order a custom magnetic name tag with their logo, and they will hear from recruiting and personal branding expert Matthew Karrandja. 

“We've got a photographer who's going to come out and just take a nice well-lit photo with a professional camera, and so you'll be able to leave with a nice photo on a jump drive. Instead of using a selfie that you cropped out of a wedding picture or something else, a really professional image is super helpful for finding that next job,” Whittaker says. 

Next on the YoPros calendar is Barks & Brews at Dodge Park in Sterling Heights on June 16 from 5 to 8 p.m. — another opportunity for people to network, have a free beer, and enjoy music in the park with their dogs. 

According to Russo, the executive board hopes to host mixers and other networking events regularly moving forward — most likely monthly. Their primary goal is to host events that mix casual conversations with an opportunity to learn and grow professionally.  

Scott Baden, an executive board member and the vice president of business development and client services at Enertron.
“Some other things that we've discussed but don't necessarily have on the calendar yet [are] something like lunch-and-learns or even a breakfast event,” says Scott Baden, an executive board member and the vice president of business development and client services at Enertron.

“We want to bring in professionals to talk about specific areas [such as] resume building, how to promote yourself, or the best way to network and really provide an educational way of helping these young professionals and their careers and do it also in a fun way.”
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Read more articles by Sarah Gudenau.