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This month, we have a guest post written by Blake Denz, a member of EMERGE Lakeland’s Steering and Marketing Committees. In anticipation of our Membership Drive in April, he has taken the time to share his experience as an EMERGE member, which has helped him grow both personally and professionally.

By: Blake Denz

I joined EMERGE in 2017 after accepting a position with my current company, TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®. I was looking for a group of people who shared my same values and desires of improving oneself professionally. The things I wanted most out of EMERGE were networking with people, improving myself professionally and staying involved within the Lakeland community.

Being nervous to start something new, I finally decided to attend a few events to get a feel for EMERGE. My first event was the New Member Luncheon at GrillSmith. I was not familiar with networking and had little to no experience with my current position at my new job. However, I was surprised to see how welcoming everyone was and how people made it a point to introduce themselves to me. I began feeling more and more comfortable with talking to people I had never met, which really helped me transition into my new position.

After attending a few events, I wanted more out of EMERGE, so I decided to enroll in EMERGE Serves. That opened my eyes to all the opportunities Lakeland had to offer that I did not know before. After graduating from EMERGE Serves in 2018, I joined the Marketing Committee and began managing the EMERGE Facebook page. Taking advantage of those opportunities helped improve the work I was doing in my current career role. It made me more aware of what people were looking for, and how I could effectively engage with our potential clients.

EMERGE not only helped me improve myself, but also made me aware of ways I could help others within Lakeland. Every year EMERGE looks for volunteer opportunities for its’ members to give back. In previous years, I was involved with Stuff the Bus and an event called Paint Your Heart Out. These two events were so fun to be a part of, and the best part was being able to help those less fortunate. For Stuff the Bus, we helped collect and distribute school supplies for families going through financial hardships. Paint Your Heart Out also helped spruce up homes for families who could not normally afford to have done it themselves.

EMERGE has opened me up to so many opportunities and introduced me to people I would not have ever encountered in my everyday life. It has made me feel comfortable being out of my comfort zone and has given me the confidence in my professional background. Just like they told me when I first joined EMERGE, “you get out what you put in,” and that did not resonate with me until I put my fears aside and decided to jump right in!

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