Will you be one of the hundreds of students gathering in Washington, D.C. next month for the tenth annual International Students For Liberty Conference?

You will spend three days meeting and discussing with students, professionals, and organizations committed to advancing liberty. It’s a perfect opportunity to get ideas for campus leadership, talk to professors and intellectuals you admire, or find a connection for a summer internship, so don’t let it go to waste.

Here are eight tips to help you take full advantage of this opportunity to share ideas, make connections, and learn about people and resources that can help you down the road.

Before the conference:

  • Create goals. Do you want to meet the leaders of student groups in your region? Are there certain organizations you want to get face time with? Perhaps you want to learn more about Austrian economics. Knowing your goals will give you a more focused approach.
  • Get business cards. The point of handing someone a business card is not to tell people stuff they can learn from Facebook. The point is to send them home with a reminder that they talked to you, so they won’t forget. You can get affordable business cards at sites like Vistaprint, or check with your university’s career center, as some print business cards for students at no cost.
  • Practice your “elevator speech.” You will be asked many times what you do, how you got involved, and what you hope to get out of the conference. Craft four sentences or less that hit your highlights and try saying them aloud a few times.

At the conference:

  • Wear your name tag. Wear it at all times, and wear it proudly. You want people to see your name repeatedly so they will remember it, not make them feel embarrassed if they forget your name.
  • Introduce yourself with more than your name. Give your name and affiliation each time you meet someone, and each time you ask a question in a session. For example, “I’m John Smith, and I’m a senior at George Mason University.” This is free advertising. Take advantage of it!
  • Never eat alone. People attend conferences to make connections and share knowledge, and everyone knows it. Ask students from other groups out to lunch and dinner, mingle with people you don’t know, and attend the evening socials. Every meal, break, and social is another opportunity make a potentially valuable connection.

After the conference:

  • Keep in touch. If you collected business cards (and I hope you did!), then after the conference it will be easy to email the people you met. Even emailing someone to say that you appreciated meeting them gets your name out and translates into relationships.
  • Keep your promises. If you agreed to follow up with someone after the conference, send someone your resume, make an introduction, etc., follow through promptly. You want to be remembered, but not as a person who offered to do something and dropped the ball.

If you want to practice these networking skills, be sure to come by the Learn Liberty and Institute for Humane Studies tables at ISFLC. You can give us your elevator speech, and we can help connect you with opportunities and resources to help you reach your career goals.

Now, go forth and network!