Now that we’re back in business with FBLA conferences, and in the midst of NFLC season, it’s more important than ever to refresh your networking skills. At any conference, remember that beyond competitive events, there are valuable opportunities to form connections with members who share similar interests or who you look up to. Try out some of the following tips at the next NFLC, and elevate your networking game!
1. Don’t hesitate to greet “social media friends” like “in-person” friends.
Is there an FBLA member whom you’ve only talked to via social media? Or someone you follow on Instagram, and feel like you’ve known forever already? Good news - regardless of how much interaction you’ve had on social media, it’s always exciting to put a name and pictures to a face! If you see an FBLA bud from across the room, give them a shout out - it’ll make them feel popular, and you can make a new *official* connection. Also, consider reaching out on social media before the conference and ask to grab coffee!
2. Set clear goals and articulate what you’re looking for.
Before you even enter the conference (because networking can happen ANY TIME!), come up with a list of goals to help gage your networking success (e.g., meet five members from another state, learn some new chapter fundraising ideas). By being goal oriented, there is a sense of direction to your conversations. The bonus? Clear goals can also help you avoid the dread awkward silences!
3. Find ways you can provide value.
You know why you’re in this networking zone, but do you know why your partner is in it? Each individual has their own networking goals, and it’s important to actively listen in order to figure out how you can best be of support. The best networking connections are when contacts can provide mutual value (e.g., you may share some great chapter recruitment ideas, the other person may share their experience as a chapter officer). Ultimately, you want to leave the conversation knowing both individuals took something away!
4. Follow up and be bold!
During a networking conversation, make sure to catch the person’s contact information. If you aren’t able to do so, no worries - try to find them on social media! A day or two after your conversation, follow up with a LinkedIn connection, email, or even hand-written thank you note. Show them you’re serious about your conversation and you got their back! Also, work your network. Don’t be afraid to ask for an introduction to someone else, help on building a LinkedIn profile, etc.
All in all, remember #FBLAConnects - so make the most of these connections! Have your own networking tips to add, or a networking story to share from NFLC? Please email me, Ashley Lin, at firstname.lastname@example.org - we’d love to hear pieces of advice (anyone else see a feature article in the near future??)