In our last blog post about DECA ELS, one of the highlights of our conference experience was the chance for us to expand our network. Through networking, we were able to develop friendships with members and association officers throughout the world, hear their DECA stories, and even form ship names with several associations: #Calitario and #Calivada!
In all parts of the world and especially in the world of business, networking is one of the most important skills anyone can have. The ability to connect with people is a rewarding process filled with new friendships, opportunities, and ideas, but this skill can only be mastered through experience, so why not start now? DECA conferences are some of the greatest places to meet new people who you wouldn’t have met otherwise!
With that said, here are…
5 Tips on Networking!
1. Be confident: Networking can be an extremely intimidating process for some people. It’s frightening to go up to a random person and start a conversation; however, remember that you’re not the only one who feels scared to network. There are plenty of others who want to network with you, but they’re just as nervous as you, so go ahead and take the first step! Just take a deep breath, remember that you’re a leader, and go introduce yourself. A strong first impression only requires you to act confident for 7 seconds.
2. Set goals: Always have a goal in mind when you network. Don’t just network for the sake of gaining more social media followers. What are you really looking for? How many people do you want to meet? What about them are you hoping to learn about? Are you aiming to find someone from another state or district?
3. Be genuine: You don’t need to pretend to be someone you’re not to make solid connections. Believe me, when you are yourself, it’s so much easier for you and the people with whom you’re trying to network. People like getting to know the real you, so just be honest and open, and you’ll feel much happier that the friends you’re making know your true self.
4. Give and receive: Let’s be honest, sometimes it gets a little awkward after an introduction because there’s not much else to say, and as easy as it is to start talking about yourself, start asking open questions instead. “Can you tell me about your DECA experience?” “What are some things you do besides DECA?” Be intentional about having balance between you and your friend talking because nothing is worse than meeting someone and realizing you didn’t learn anything about them. As much as we love you and as much as you should love yourself, asking questions and listening are the best ways to start strong friendships.
5. Follow up: Once you’ve established connections and friendships, don’t let them end at the conference! Remember to exchange contact information and keep in touch. You never know when those connections might prove useful in the future!
Now that you know these tips, we know you can do it, good luck, and get networking!