Whether you’re looking for business networking opportunities, a mentor, co-founder, or just new friends, you won’t need to look far to find the right fit. Technology puts networking at our fingertips– and makes finding highly-curated communities more accessible than ever.
What is Business Networking and Why Should You Care?
Today, expanding your network is easy. But although social media platforms like Linkedin, Instagram, and Twitter are great ways to keep your network updated on what’s happening in your career and business, they will never substitute the social capital built through in-person meetings.
Business networking is the intentional process of creating and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships with colleagues across a large company or with fellow entrepreneurs, potential clients, and customers.
Done strategically and with intention , networking introduces others to the person behind the job or company, builds relationships, and helps tell the story of your business or brand.
The 6 Types of Networking Organizations
The six most common types of business networking organizations include:
Social/Casual Clubs— Organizations centered around leisure activities and casual fun.
Community Service and Philanthropic Groups— Volunteer, community service, or philanthropic groups.
Strong Contacts— Mastermind groups or highly strategic groups centered around a specific goal.
Professional Networks— A network of your peers specific to your industry.
Alumni Networks— Your alma mater or a group created from an academic program, internship, or professional exchange.
Social media and online networks— Virtual, group chats, and social media groups. LinkedIn is the perfect example of this type of network.
Don’t let this list overwhelm you. You’re likely part of at least two of these types of groups. And two is more than enough. Rather than spreading yourself across more groups, engage deeper into the ones you already have.
Below is a curated list of networking groups for black and brown professionals looking to build their careers and grow their brand. These groups and their members are notable. And while some were created exclusively for professionals of color, others offer a community marked by inclusivity and a commitment to furthering the platforms of their members. Join these groups now:
African American Executive Network (AAEX)
Created by prestigious tech law firm Cooley LLP, AAEx launched two years ago with the aim of bringing together a forward-thinking community of executives, investors, innovators and prominent influencers across a wide range of industries, companies, and government agencies.
Their events turn the typical tech meetup on its head– foregoing the average coworking space as their venue and opting for riverfront restaurants like The Wharf’s Del Mar and serving top shelf cocktails complete with a chef prepared menu. Attendance to AAEx is invite only.
To request an invitation, contact Alex Knight here.
Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI)
The mission of this internship program with a powerful alumni network is to educate, empower, and connect.
This mantra aides CHCI’s mission in developing young Latino leaders. Through internships and fellowships, they create programs that encourage knowledge of public policy and building strong leaders.
Their legacy also builds connections to prominent Latino leaders throughout the country. Alumni hold events and act as mentors for current program members. To learn more about CHCI, go to www.chci.org.
Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF)
Another notable internship program with a powerful alumni network is CBCF. The foundation provides paid internships in Congress and government agencies to students of color.
Their much anticipated annual policy conference– the Annual Legislative Conference— is another great business networking platform for professionals of color.
Browse their leadership summits and social events at cbcfinc.org.
ColorComm | Women of Color in Communications
What began as a luncheon with a handful professionals soon morphed into a communications community for women all over the country.
ColorComm connects like-minded individuals as well as build relationships and mentorships. Regular events are open to members and non-members alike for a fee. Learn more at www.colorcommnetwork.com.
Harvard Business School Club of Washington D.C. (HBSDC)
World-class speakers, unmatched venues, and high-caliber networking opportunities. All of that and more is what one can expect from HBS Club of Washington, DC. Although membership is only open to HBS alumni, event tickets are sometimes available for a fee. Learn more on their website.
National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE)
Don’t let the name fool you. The NSBE isn’t just made up of engineers but a diverse group of professionals committed to the love science and technology.
They promote networking and volunteer opportunities among their members in the DMV area. Some events include seminars, mentoring high schoolers and cookouts. If you’re looking for a place to nerd out and share some big ideas, NSBE could be a great fit for you.
Washington Women in Public Relations (WWPR)
Women in the world of media, PR, and communications unite. Founded in 1980, WWPR works to inspire female communicators in the District through mentorship, professional development, and leadership opportunities.
Events are offered to members at a discount and to the public at full price. Learn more about WWPR on their website.
Black Female Founders (BFF)
By gathering together some of the brightest women in tech world, #BFF looks to create unity and build support amongst their members.
Panel style and hands-on workshops are often held at companies like Google and cover topics like pitching, raising funding, and more. The group has an active Facebook group. Request an invitation here.
Thursday Network is the Washington, DC and Suburban MD chapter of the National Urban League Young Professionals (NULYP).
Comprised of hundreds of professionals of color in the the Washington Metropolitan area, members are committed to community programs and partnership that spur community service, professional development, and political involvement. Learn more about TN at https://thursdaynetwork.org/.
Ellevate is a national network for professional women with local chapters. Their mission is to give “professional women a seat at the table and a voice in important conversations.”
The network is made up of women across different industries and a good fit for professionals building a network from scratch in a new city. Join Ellevate here.
Ladies DC is a local chapter of the national organization Ladies America. The mission of the group is to build and unite a network of professional women.
Through monthly happy hours, speakers, and panels, Ladies DC provides many ways for women to connect and grow their casual network. With about 3,000 women with different backgrounds in the chapter, it won’t be hard to make a meaningful connection. Learn more at www.ladiesdc.org
CAPITOL STANDARD Private LinkedIn Group
An extension of the CAPITOL STANDARD community, this group was created to help affluent professionals in Washington, DC share networking events, job opportunities, and other helpful resources. Request to join on LinkedIn.
Capital Alumni Network (CAN)
A casual networking group for sports lovers and community activists, CAN is an all-volunteer organization comprised of more than 250 Washington, D.C. based college and university alumni clubs. Learn more at http://www.capalum.org/.
Nomadness Travel Tribe
An online social network at its core Nomadness is comprised of a group of passionate travelers of color who travel in groups to exotic destinations.
With more than 22,000 people, their Facebook page is like a modern day Green Book– helping members avoid pitfalls and make the most of their international trips. Join on Facebook.
Our Family Dinner
Based on the old community-based dinner tradition, Our Family Dinner encourages young professionals to break out of their comfort zone and break bread with strangers.
But what sets this group apart is a welcoming environment that makes it feel less like you’ve never met these people and more like family.