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05/22/2009

Dallas' CareerConnection launches group at Colleyville church

CareerConnection, a popular networking group that meets weekly at Dallas' Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church, has quietly launched its first Tarrant County affiliate. The group held its first meeting Wednesday at the First United Methodist Church of Colleyvilleand will continue to meet 9 a.m.-11 a.m. Wednesdays at the church, 5601 Pleasant Run Road.

Julie Burroughs, a member of the church who was laid off in January from her job in sales management at Nortel, subsequently became a CareerConnection member and is co-moderator of the new affiliate.

Ten jobseekers attended the little-publicized first meeting. Burroughs says she'd like to see the group grow to 30-35 weekly participants, a long ways off the 350 who now regularly swamp the Preston Hollow meetings. Similiarly, Thursday meetings of the Southlake Focus Group, another hugely popular, established networking group, have drawn as many as 300 recently.

At 350, "it's very difficult to effectively build relationships and network," Burroughs says. "It's hard to develop that empathy, that relationship."

A smaller group will still produce "a lot of contacts...that you can leverage," locally, statewide, and nationally, she said. If the Colleyville group grows too large, she said, members can meet in breakout groups.

The Colleyville group will follow the structure of its Dallas parent, founded in 1992. Monthly membership fee is $10, which allows access to both weekly meetings, online job board and Yahoo! listserv, and other resources, and covers the cost of materials. Can't afford to pay? You can still attend, but won't have access to the online resources.

The two-hour meetings begin with "30-second commercial" introductions, "Who am I, what have I done, what kind of help am I looking for?" Burroughs says. A discussion follows on a topic such as resume writing, or use of online networking sites.

Burroughs believes the Colleyville group could draw some Tarrant County jobseekers who now drive to Dallas each week for the CareerConnection meetings. After the formation of the affiliate group was announced at last week's meeting, Burroughs says four people approached her with interest.

CareerConnection's Colleyville affiliate is the latest networking group to pop up in Tarrant County.

The Fort Worth Career Search Network, formed earlier this Spring, meets Monday mornings at the North Fort Worth Baptist Church. Some of the leaders of that group are also helping foster the growth of Colleyville Career Search Network group, which meets 9 a.m. Tuesday mornings at Covenant Church Colleyville.

- Scott Nishimura

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