Chicago networking events

Take your career offline with these in-person networking events.
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By K. Aleisha Fetters |
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Back before social media, people networked face-to-face. They carried business cards, wore name tags, and shook hands. And guess what? It worked. Go offline with these networking events and get ready to make a real career connection.

Alliance of Creative Professionals Lunch and Learn
All right brain and no left? Launched in May of 2011, this event is designed to help creative folks get business savvy. After open networking at a restaurant, everybody sits down for a presentation on creative business topics such as managing your time, starting a business, and making sales.
Meet up
First Thursday of the month, noon–1:30pm. Locations vary; $15 for members, $30 for guests, $35 at door.

The Chicago Black Professionals Social Network Monthly Board Games
Forget the formalities and have some board-game fun. Held at local bars such as Estate Ultra Bar and the Standard Bar and Grill, the event welcomes everyone to bring their favorite games, order some drinks and hang out for as long as they like.
Meet up
Second Saturday of every month, 1–6pm, locations vary; free.

Chicago Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce B2B Networking Event
If you’re LGBT or an allied business owner, this monthly breakfast will help you make things happen. Plus, once a quarter, the meeting features speed networking, during which you can make more than 30 one-on-one business connections before you ever head off to work.
Meet up
Second Tuesday of every month, 7–9am. GL Chamber Headquarters, 3179 N Clark St; members $10, nonmembers $20.

Chicago Green Drinks
What can artists, activists, businesspeople, students, non-profiteers and government representatives have in common? A passion for sustainability. Held by Foresight Design Initiative, a local sustainability consulting company, this event features networking along with a moderated panel discussion on environmental topics.
Meet up
Dates alternate monthly between Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 5:30–8:30pm, Jefferson Tap & Grille, 325 N Jefferson St (312-648-0100); $9–$20 suggested, $5.50 for students, unemployed and low-income.

Network After Work
If networking is a numbers game, this event is the hands-down winner. Hosted at bars, clubs and hotels, the event normally draws about 500 people. To navigate so many people (and industries!), everyone gets a color-coded name tag at the door designating their area of expertise. Bring plenty of business cards.
Meet up
Varied Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays, 6–9pm. Locations vary; $10 in advance, $15 at the door, $20 without R.S.V.P.

Step Up Women’s Network Power Breakfasts
Power up with this breakfast that connects 35–70 local businesswomen at least six times per year. Each meeting features an hour presentation from female high-ups such as the CEO of ComEd and the president of Advertising Age, as well as some good ’ol fashioned girl-on-girl networking.
Meet up
Dates and locations vary; free to members.

Technori Pitch
Each month at the Chase Auditorium, five companies show off their latest technologies. Meanwhile, hundreds of techies meet, find inspiration and swap e-mail addresses. Scout out products and companies like GigFunder, which allows fans to lobby bands to play a particular city and helps bands crowd-source funds for the appearance, and learn from keynote speakers such as the person behind Siri.
Meet up
Last Tuesday of every month, 6–8pm. Chase Auditorium, 10 S Dearborn St; $10 early bird, $15 regular, $20 at door.

Young Professionals of Chicago Table for Six Events
Score a three-course dinner at some of the city’s best restaurants, and count it as a business expense. Don’t stuff your face, though. You’re randomly seated with five other young professionals for the two-hour evening event. Bonus/warning: There’s a cash bar.
Meet up
Every two to three months, times, locations and prices vary (typically under $25 for members).

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