Young Professionals NEXT on Deck

With an economy on the upswing after the devastating recession, a new professional culture is beginning to emerge. Young professionals, finally able to find a job in their field, are holding far more agency in the companies where they work. As a result, these folks, like their older counterparts, are looking for ways to connect with like-minded individuals and network about common interests.

It is this desire that has brought about the growth of young professional groups throughout the country. For professionals along the I-75 growth corridor, the West Chester – Liberty Chamber Alliance provides a large and vibrant YP organization called NEXT (Networking, Educating, eXcelling and Transforming).

With the job market improving but still competitive, participation in YP organizations like NEX T can help young professionals learn and grow in areas like self-branding, awareness of businesses and organizations and networking with other area professionals.

“Our group is comprised of a variety of people who work in the area but don’t necessarily live here,” says Kelly Bittlinger, administrative coordinator and NEXT YP staff liaison with the organization.

“It’s a great opportunity to network with other young professionals and meet individuals who wouldn’t necessarily cross paths otherwise.” As a result of the culture that arises surrounding professional interactions among individuals between the ages of 21 and 40, these YP events are often far more casual than typical networking events.

“Often times people feel more comfortable when they are surrounded by professionals their own age,” says Pam Gruber, marketing, PR and events coordinator for The Chamber Alliance. “ This can, in turn, create a more laid-back atmosphere. The YP Team is very welcoming and are consistently reaching out to new young professionals.”

The NEXT group is open to young professionals throughout Cincinnati and Dayton, and membership in The Chamber Alliance isn’t a factor. “We want to help educate young professionals about networking and other areas like social media,” says Gruber. “We have our Lunch and Learn events that typically have one topic to educate YPs about while providing networking opportunities.”

The organization also holds evening social events and opportunities to bond with other YP members by volunteering together or participating in team-building activities. “It’s not always about business – it’s also about personal growth and making connections,” says Bittlinger. “Because it’s often all about who you know in the professional world, being a part of something like this helps build up confidence and character. YPs certainly need the support of their communities.”

Since NEXT events are not formal or intimidating, the atmosphere provides a great opportunity for YPs in the early stages of their careers to speak with and receive advice from those who are a bit more seasoned. “ You don’t know what you don’t know,” says Gruber. “ You never know who you’ll meet that will play a big part in your business.”

The organization also works to get young professionals involved in their communities through volunteer efforts, like the Random Acts of Simple Kindness Affecting Local Seniors (RASKALS) program. Through this program, YP members visit the homes of seniors throughout the community and perform small acts of service, such as raking leaves or cleaning. These activities build bonds within the YP community while providing a notable good for their communities.

For more information on the NEXT program or to join, email Kelly Bittlinger at, or call 513.777.3600 for more information.