In March of 2011, I launched the first event for Atlanta Under 40 with the simple desire to help my friends make friends after college, in an environment that wasn’t sales-y or a singles meat market. Our first event was at the Warren City Club in the Highlands and had 94 people there. I knew 90 of them. The energy was high and people were having fun conversations with a variety of people, mostly whom they’d never met before.

One event rolled into a second, then a third, and now we’re embarking on our 53rd monthly event. More than four years have passed and these events that I started to help my friends meet new people have turned into Atlanta’s largest place for young professionals to meet one another, boasting events with 400+ attendees each month at our cities premiere venues.

As we’ve grown, it’s been positively overwhelming to see how organically the word has spread as you all have generously told your friends about us and brought them along to an event with you. As the founder, I’m so thankful you all enjoy the environment my team and I create for you every month, and that you trust us enough to produce events that are worth your time and investment. I also love some of these testimonials you all have shared with us of the great things that have resulted from your attending our events!

Because I can’t meet each and every one of you at the events, I wanted to take a moment to answer the one question I most frequently am asked:

Why did I start these events? The answer is as simple as I stated in my opening remarks: Having gone to school here (Emory), I had friends who moved back to town from first jobs or grad school, or who looked up a few years into their careers and realized that their social circles had changed. They realized that going to a bar and finding a friendly face and saying, “You look nice…want to be friends?”, was awkward and a little strange, so they didn’t know where to turn. Most other networking events they attended felt like a big sales pitch or were really just a singles scene guised as a networking event. I’m someone who loves to connect people, so it was easy for me to help them by creating Atlanta Under 40. What came as a surprise to all of us was how much people enjoyed coming and wanted to cheer us on to keep going. So I did…and here we are today!

It’s my hope that this initial reason for starting the event is what can remain in the cultural fabric. I want you to come and know that if you lead with social interaction, that builds rapport, and allows you to do business with people if you so choose to after. I’m a believer that you have to know, like, and trust people in order to do business, so there’s no sense in rushing that relationship. Under 40 is a place where you can meet people without fear because everyone is there to meet one another! And ideally, they’re there to get to know people in other industries, stages of young professional-hood, and just see with whom they naturally vibe. It’s then up to each of you where you take that relationship (friendship, business, or a combination of the two).

With this growth, we’re excited about what’s in store for the future of Network Under 40 as we grow into other cities to help young professionals there have a similar experience. I look forward to seeing you at one of our upcoming monthly events in Atlanta, or in one of the 5 other cities in which we’re launching soon!

Darrah Brustein

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