By Sam Gust
Founded more than a decade ago, the FMWF Chamber of Commerce’s Young Professionals Network (YPN) is the area’s premier networking organization for young professionals to engage, connect and develop alongside one another. Maybe you’ve heard of it, but YPN Director Samantha Gust bets she can still surprise you. She came up with five things you might not know about the network.
1.) We are a diverse group of young people.
While the average age of our members is between 21-35, we don’t have an age limit on who can participate (except for being 21 or older). Additionally, our organization is for those working across all industries and at all levels of experience—service, financial, nonprofit, construction, entrepreneurs, technology, healthcare, education. You name it, and we have members from that industry.
2.) You get out of YPN what you put in.
We have at least one event happening each month, and so whether you’re looking to attend only a few events a year or you want to actually get involved on the planning side of things through one of our four committees, YPN can be suited to your needs.
3.) It’s a non-intimidating introduction to the area business community.
For those looking to gains skills early in their careers, YPN is perfect. By being an active member of YPN, you get to interact with like-minded individuals who are also just starting their professional career path. It’s a great way to work on networking, gain board and committee experience, and help develop important professionals skills before taking high-level positions that require more experience.
4.) We are, by far, the largest organization for young professionals in our region.
From our inception 13 years ago, YPN has been the region’s premier business-centric organization for young professionals. With more than 350 members, it’s clear that we hold an important place in our community.
5.) There’s something for everyone.
Maybe you’re just looking to grow your network, maybe you want to broaden your professional skill set or maybe you want to get to know the place you call home on a more personal level. Either way, YPN offers something for everyone. We plan social events, educational and skill-building sessions, volunteer opportunities and everything in between to help cultivate our regions young professionals.
YPN Member Benefits
+ Free attendance to “Off the Clock” networking socials (11 free events)
+ A monthly newsletter highlighting all events—to keep you in the know
+ Discounted member fees for all other events
+ Opportunity to be profiled as the “One to Watch” and “YP of the Year”
One to Watch
The “One to Watch” award is given to a Young Professionals Network (YPN) member who “goes above and beyond, not only within their place of employment but also within the organization and the community as a whole,” as the website states.
Where it was previously a monthly award, YPN decided a couple months ago to revamp the nomination and selection process and, as Gust puts it, make it less watered down.
“Maybe it’s a Millennial thing, but we don’t want this to just be a ‘meh’ award,” she says, adding that the award will now only be given out quarterly and that nominations have to come from a colleague—whether it’s a supervisor, coworker or a fellow board member. “We really want it to hold some importance and some value, and what better way than asking the people who are working directly with someone every single day?”
Selected from roughly 35 nominees, Capital Credit Union’s Eric Miller was selected as the first recipient of the new “One to Watch.” Keep an eye out going forward, as each quarter we will be featuring the winner of the award in Fargo INC!
Meet Eric Miller
YPN’s “One to Watch”
• From Mandan, N.D.
• Graduated from NDSU in 2014 with a degree in agricultural economics
• Works for Capital Credit Union as a mortgage loan officer and business development specialist
• Prior to his time at Capital Credit Union, worked for an ag robotics company in South Dakota
• Joined YPN two years ago
• Is active with not only YPN but also numerous other associations in town
Three Quick Qs with Eric Miller
1) What made you decide to join YPN initially?
Miller “While part of my job is to do home loans, the other part—as a business development specialist—is to go out into the community and cultivate relationships, whether it’s with realtors, builders, all kinds of industry professionals.
“This allows me to bring feedback back to the company to help them understand and make decisions—whether it’s expansion or growth or different products or services.”
“When I started the job, I hopped into YPN, FMAAR (Fargo-Moorhead Area Association of Realtors), HBA (Homebuilders Association – Fargo) and a couple other organizations—mainly to start networking and finding people.
“I knew a few people who were already a part of the YPN, and I knew it was going to be an avenue I could go down where I could start making some life-long connections and be able to actually grow in my career. I try to keep the schedule pretty full.”
2) What’s your favorite aspect of the program?
Miller “It’s, of course, always tough right away because you don’t know a lot of people starting out. But once you have a few of those connections, it’s 1) meeting the new people who are coming in and then 2) you’re able to start having the conversations with other people—whether they’re in your industry or at least your age demographic— and get more in depth about, ‘What things are you doing to help yourself grow in your career, personal life, things like that?’
“It lets you start having higher quality and more depth to your conversations.”
3) What does receiving a peer-nominated award like “One to Watch” mean to you?
Miller “It’s nice to be able to go to work and know that the people around you clearly enjoy having you there because they’re willing to nominate you. It makes you feel good that they’re recognizing what you’re doing, but, of course, in the end, it is a team effort.”
If you’re interested in joining YPN or just want to learn more:
To nominate someone for the YPN’s “One to Watch” award, visit: fmwfchamber.com/YPN/onetowatch.php