8 Must-Attend Charlotte Networking Events

Feb 16, 2015 -
If you're looking for a great place to work and play, Charlotte, North Carolina, could be just the place for you. The third fastest-growing city in the United States, Charlotte was ranked number four on Forbes’ list of The Happiest Cities for Young Professionals. CNN Money named it number eight on its list of the 100 Best Places to Live and Launch, and Charlotte’s Third Ward area was featured on Niche Ink’s 25 Best Neighborhoods for Young People. With everything Charlotte has going for it -- culture, sports, nightlife and more -- you can also add plenty of networking opportunities to that list. Here are eight top networking groups and events that can help you boost your career to the next level. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Charlotte Network After Work

If you hate the pressure of formal networking events, you’ll enjoy the more relaxed atmosphere of the Charlotte chapter of Network After Work, one of the country’s top business networking companies that hosts monthly events in over 40 cities and counts itself 1,000,000 members strong. Events are held on weeknights in fun locales like Draught and Whiskey River, and most people come straight from work. Bring your business cards, grab a cocktail, and unwind and mingle at your leisure.

2. NetParty

This group hosts a variety of events targeted towards those who prefer the social aspect of networking. NetParty Connect events combine cocktail hour, mingling and music in a low-pressure atmosphere. Tech Night 2000 is geared towards startup workers. NetParty Social is a strictly fun event and NetParty Turbo offers “speed dating for business contacts.” NetParty has won rave reviews from everyone from Forbes to U.S. News and World Report to Cosmopolitan Magazine. (Although our personal favorite comes from Armada Magazine, which dubs NetParty “the Mack Daddy, if you will, of all networking parties.”)

3. Startup Grind Charlotte

Share your successes, struggles and stories with fellow startup founders at this event series created to “help educate, inspire, and connect local entrepreneurs.” Learn from monthly speakers who share their own stories, including “what worked, what didn't, and what they'll do differently next time,” then have the chance to connect with up-and-coming movers and shakers like yourself to discuss your own journeys.

4. Queen City (QC) Young Active Professionals

If you’re looking for more of a social scene, this is the group for you. QC YAPs hosts a wide range of activities each month designed for “young adult professionals [ages 21-39] looking for ways to get out of the house after work and on the weekends.” Whether you’re down for a flag football game, a book club meeting or a Bingo night at a local restaurant (seriously), you’ll find plenty to do and plenty of people to do it with.

5. Charlotte Young Professional Women

Network with other professional women in their 20s and 30s at one of this group’s many events, which include dinners, cocktail hours, “girls’ nights out” and more. It’s a great way to meet new people, make new connections and have some fun at the same time. “The girls in the group are very friendly and low drama,” said one member on the group’s review board (name withheld from non-group members). “Its great to spend time with other professional women that you can relate to and find things in common with. What a great way to meet new girlfriends! ”

6. GeekMeet Charlotte

This one’s for the techies. Based on the belief that “professional relationships are built from personal connections,” this group encourages IT professionals of all shapes and sizes to get out from behind their computers and connect with their colleagues IRL at happy hours, speakers events and more. (You can also communicate via forums and job boards, where you can collaborate with fellow geeks across the country.) What we love most about this group is their mix of straightforward purpose and cheeky humor -- as their About page states: We’re not a blowout social media site that encourages you to collect friends like they’re baseball cards. We know that one Mickey Mantle rookie card is worth far more than 1,000 Jose Canseco’s. We encourage you to find that Mickey Mantle that’ll help you boost your career, your livelihood, and heck, your social life.

7. Charlotte Chamber Young Professionals (CCYPs)

Hosted by the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, this group provides informational programs, volunteering opportunities and networking events like luncheons and mixers for young professionals ages 21-39. They also provide a newsletter, blog and annual awards that highlight CCYPs in a number of categories, including Young Professional Newcomer and Business Leader. By connecting young talent to the local business community, the Chamber hopes to attract, cultivate and develop up-and-coming professionals to boost the Charlotte economy and business community.

8. Spark & Shine

Billing themselves as the place for “career girls with fun + purpose,” this group is aimed at professional women between the ages of 28 and 39 who are interested in encouraging each other to live their best lives and pursue careers that are personally fulfilling. There’s a regular meet-up on the third Thursday of each month, plus other special events around the Charlotte area. If you like the sound of “events that are centered around living your most magnificent life and having a rocking career that is deeply fulfilling,” be sure to check this group out. Kelly Gurnett is a freelance blogger, writer and editor who runs the blog Cordelia Calls It Quits, where she documents her attempts to rid her life of the things that don’t matter and focus more on the things that do. Follow her on Twitter @CordeliaCallsIt.