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Networking Your Way to the Top: Five Keys to Success

October 11, 2016


Back when you were in high school, networking was simple. You sat down with someone who worked with your mother or father, or with a member of the clergy at your house of worship, with a local business leader – or maybe with someone who had attended a college that interested you. You asked general questions about your future, your education and your career.

There was value in that kind of networking at the time. But now that you are a college student, a graduate student or a college grad, the stakes are higher. You aren’t just collecting general information. You are at the stage of life when you are making specific plans. That means taking the process of networking to a higher level.

Here are five ways to get the most from networking now that you are “playing for the pros.

Reach out to people in the professions where you would like to work

They should work in the companies or industry that you are targeting, not people who are just important or influential in a general sense. The goal of meeting with them is to ask specific questions, not collect general information. Some examples might include:

  • “Do only communications majors get hired by companies like yours to work in PR, or do you sometimes hire English majors like me?”
  • “I never took any courses in electrical engineering in college. Do I need to add those before I apply for jobs in companies X, Y or Z?”
  • “Which companies in our area are most involved in doing good in the community and helping people?”

Tap individuals who come from communities where you belong, not “anyone who will speak to you”

There are many reasons to do this. First of all, they will be more likely to meet with you. Second, they will have more interest in helping you succeed. Some of these communities might include:

  • Graduates of your college or university.
  • Members of Golden Key or other honor societies to which you belong.
  • Members of professional fraternities or other professional organizations.

Stress that you are asking for an informational interview, not a job interview

The most effective networking happens when you ask for information, not for a job, for several reasons:

  • If you ask for a job, your networking contacts will either refer you to the employment office at their companies or turn down your request to meet. (“We are not hiring jobs right now.”)
  • When you ask for information, most people will be happy to meet with you. If they know of jobs that are right for you, they will refer you to them. In contrast, asking for a job interview is a “hit or miss” strategy that has little chance of getting results.

Effective networking means staying in touch with people, not just meeting once

On the day you meet with someone, he or she might not know of any jobs or other opportunities that are right for you. In a week or two, that could change! That is why it is so important to take the following steps to keep your networking contacts active:

  • Send a written thank-you note after your first conversation. Not an email . . . not a tweet . . . a good old-fashioned handwritten thank-you note! It will get your networking relationship off to a strong start.
  • Share news about what you are up to. When you get an internship or win an award, let your networking contacts know.
  • Send links to articles and other information that your networking contacts will read and appreciate. It is a quick and effective mind to “stay on their radar.”
  • If you get a new job, let them know. It’s another way to demonstrate that you see your networking contacts as resources who are part of your success team.

Effective networking works best when you meet people face-to-face, not only connect online

Online forums like LinkedIn can certainly help you network. But the most productive networking happens when people invest the time and effort to meet people face-to-face. Some reasons include:

  • When you actually meet your contact, you become vastly more memorable.
  • Your contact will notice strengths and abilities in you that simply cannot be communicated online.
  • Genuine in-person relationships are far more easy to maintain and strengthen than online relationship can ever be.

So go out there and start connecting! Do you have any tips for networking you’d like to share? Sound off in the comments!

International Summit 2016: Recap!

October 3, 2016

Discover Your Destiny, Adventure Awaits was the theme for the 2016 International Summit, held in Tucson, Arizona.  Tucson provided a beautiful backdrop for the Summit, a skyline of rolling hills dotted with cacti and Sonora wildlife.  The JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort and Spa was an oasis atop a mountain overlooking the city of Tucson.  Around 400 members, advisors, alumni, partners and friends attended the Summit from 28 July – 31 July.

Thursday, 28 July- First day of conference.

The delegates arrived throughout the day and visited registration to receive their name tags, T shirts, conference supplies and goodies.  The summit wing of the hotel was lined with fun games like giant Jenga, jumbo bowling, board games and the “Amazing Race”.  The Amazing Race gave delegates a chance to get to know one another through Minute-to-Win-It games and activities with an Arizona theme.  All regions and countries met before opening session to mingle with the other delegates in their regions as well as get hyped up in their regional colors before Opening Session.

The Happy Mariachi Trio mariachi band welcomed the delegates into the Opening Session. Each region walked in dressed in their colors.  The Associate Directors ran on stage and did regional shout outs before introducing our Opening Session speaker, MrJeffDess.


MrJeffDess is a writer, professor, public speaker and emcee of Haitian descent. Born and raised in New York City, he received his B.A and M.A in English Literature from St. John’s University. MrJeffDess is the author of four books of poetry. His forthcoming book, Trill Motivation (2016) will present the freshest and coolest look at leadership and motivation that’s ever been seen. He has performed, spoken and presented across the nation and internationally at various institutions and universities. With over ten years of performing and student affairs experience under his belt, MrJeffDess continues to help students reach their highest potential.  He currently serves as the Assistant Director of Campus Life at New Jersey City University and vows to always keep it funky.

MrJeffDess taught us about achieving our legacy.  It’s one thing to be a great leader but it’s another thing to set the bar to unseen heights. To reach a new level of leadership, you must achieve a legacy slam.  MrJeffDess used music and dancing to get the crowd pumped up and energized for the first night of Summit.


Michael Crossland, the Closing Session speaker was the emcee for the networking event.  Michael set up Minute-to-Win-It games for the entire audience to compete in. Even our Executive Director, Brad Rainey, joined in on the fun.

After the networking event, Advisors were honored at an Advisor VIP event, dedicated to appreciating all of their hard work and efforts throughout the year.  A delicious fiesta-themed dinner was enjoyed before a presentation of the advisor tenure awards.


Friday 29 July- Second Day of Conference

Friday started with a light breakfast and the Advisor Plenary Session.  The Plenary Session was an update from headquarters as well as an open forum to ask questions about the society.  After breakfast, workshops began.  Workshops varied from personal/professional development, chapter specific and Advisor specific.  Titles included: Building Your Personal Brand, What the Five Elements of Hip-Hop Can Teach You about Leadership, Servant Leadership, Be an ACTion HERO, Five Questions Chapters Must Ask for Success, and Secrets of Advisors.

After the first two workshops, delegates received a boxed lunch and were able explore the GK Expo, take pictures at the photo booth, play Xbox 360 games, meet with companies and Graduate schools and more!


After the second set of workshops concluded, delegates were free to explore the hotel as well as downtown Tucson.

Saturday 30 July- Final Day

Saturday started with a light breakfast before heading into the Service Kick-Off.  The project started with a 45 minute presentation from Ben’s Bells founder Jeanette Mare.  She spoke on how the organization came about as well as how kindness fits into our everyday life and can lead to social change in communities.   Ben’s Bells is a local organization whose mission is to “inspire, educate and motivate people to realize the impact of intentional kindness and to empower individuals to act according to that awareness, thereby strengthening ourselves, our relationships and our communities.”


Recent research demonstrates that kindness benefits our physical and mental health, and that recognizing kindness in others increases a person’s happiness and satisfaction. But just as solving a calculus problem requires advanced math skills, the challenges of daily life require advanced kindness skills. By focusing on kindness and being intentional in our personal interactions, we can improve our ability to connect.

After the program everyone was split into groups.  Four groups were participating in Ben’s Bells activities consisting of painting pieces for Ben’s Bells, learning communications games, having discussions, etc.  Activities were meant so chapters can use them to create their own SPARK projects.  One group created math and reading flashcards to be used at next year’s Golden Key Kiddos Camp.

Our goal was that our chapters would be able to learn from as well as form a new SPARK contact through Ben’s Bells.  We hope this new knowledge can be taken to local schools, libraries and community programs to be shared with local children.  We feel that Ben’s Bells is a great opportunity to teach real world preparedness lessons such as citizenship and anti-bullying both in within their schools and communities.

After service, delegates were released for lunch.  There were two sets of workshops after lunch and plenty of time to enjoy the beautiful amenities of the JW Marriott.

At 5:00 on Saturday evening, the Red Carpet reception began.  Ticket holders were able to mix and mingle with Michael Crossland before the Gala began.  Michael continued to keep everyone laughing and enjoying themselves at the event.

An hour later, the doors to Gala were opened and delegates dressed in cocktail attire began to find their seats.  There was a presentation of the Key Chapter awards by Executive Director Brad Rainey, ILC President Harriett Watkins and Outgoing Board President Anita Miller.  After the presentation, dinner began.  While dinner played, we were graced with the gorgeous piano playing of a few talented Golden Key members.  At the conclusion of dinner, Michael Crossland was welcomed to the stage.


Diagnosed with aggressive life threatening cancer before his first birthday doctors told Michael school and sport were not options. Infection and fatigue were too great a risk. His only wish was to lead a normal life and be able to do all the things that other ‘normal’ kids took for granted every day.

Now, an accomplished businessman, Australian of the Year finalist, Australia Day Ambassador, Camp Quality Ambassador and international hall of fame inductee, Michael inspires many people from all walks of life with his story and inspiration of believing in yourself and achieving impossible dreams. Michael has an absolute passion and belief in people’s ability to change direction and become who they truly want to be and achieve success.

We then had the amazing opportunity to induct Michael as an official staff member since he was inducted as an honorary member at last year’s International Summit.  The best surprise of the night was when Executive Director, Brad Rainey told Michael about the creation of the Michael Crossland Scholarship which will allow Golden Key members the opportunity to travel to Haiti and work at Michael’s school for 10 days.


“The world is in good hands with the future leaders from Golden Key.”

-Michael Crossland

The overwhelming response from delegates was that Michael was one of the most inspirational speakers they have ever heard. “I loved Michael Crossland. He energized me in a new way and made me want to do more for the world,” one delegate said.

The night was ended with an official close to the Summit by Harriet Watkins.  The lights were dimmed and the music played as delegates hit the dance floor for the rest of the night.


Golden Key would like to send a huge thank you to everyone that attended and helped with the 2016 International Summit! We hope you had an amazing time. For those who missed out, we hope you will join us in 2017.

Click here to watch the Summit Recap video!

Winning the Joan Nelson Study Abroad Scholarship

September 8, 2016

An interview with Golden Key International Honour Society Scholarship Winner and Marine Biologist Patricia Hanley

Anyone who worries that too few bright young women are becoming scientists should get to know Patricia Hanley, a Golden Key member who is studying marine biology at the University of New Brunswick. Patricia, who was raised in Saint John, New Brunswick, is conducting research into lobster movement in the Bay of Fundy. It’s just the right research topic for a young woman who hails from the Maritimes.


Patricia Hanley of University of New Brunswick, Canada


Golden Key was gratified when Patricia applied for the Joan Nelson Study Abroad Scholarship – and delighted when she won. Patricia will use her $5,000 award to study at Humboldt State University in Arcata, California, where she will assist adjunct professor Eric Bjorkstedt in his research.

How will Patricia benefit from the scholarship? Here is what she told us in a recent conversation.


How Will the Scholarship Help Patricia?

Patricia is thrilled that her scholarship will give her the opportunity to conduct more extensive research in her chosen field. “It has enhanced the quality of research I do by allowing me to absorb knowledge and skills from a larger group of scientists,” she states.

She also believes that studying with Professor Bjorkstedt will continue to help her make connections to a broader range or experts in her field. “Undoubtedly,” she says, “the experience has already broadened my prospects as an early-career researcher in the research community.”


How Patricia Describes the Benefits of Joining Golden Key International Honour Society

How has Patricia’s Golden Key membership helped her? She says that it has improved her C.V., increased the size of her professional network, helped her connect with researchers who share her research interests, and even started to connect her with potential employers. She is certain that her Joan Nelson Scholarship will give her a competitive advantage when she begins to apply for jobs.


Are You Thinking of Joining Golden Key International Honour Society? Ask Patricia

“I would tell prospective members not to hesitate to join. Members of the society are a unique and varied group with access to scholarships that could offer them invaluable opportunities now and in the future.”

Are you interested in scholarship opportunities? Visit the Golden Key Website to see a current listing of all available scholarships and application deadlines. Someone is going to win them; Why not you?


Golden Key Atlanta Regional Summit 2016

August 19, 2016

AtlantaRS copy

Golden Key’s Regional Summit 2016 for Regions 3 and 7 kicked off in Atlanta, GA. On Friday, February 28, 2016, Golden Key members arrived to the gorgeous Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel with the anticipation of having a fun filled weekend. Everyone knows that Atlanta traffic is quiet interesting so in order to give all the attendees time to arrive the early arrivals took place in a photo scavenger hunt. The “Amazing Race” themed scavenger hunt took places near the beautiful Centennial Olympic Park and surrounding areas.

After the scavenger hunt, everyone met up Friday afternoon for the opening sessions. It was a wonderful evening of seeing the many colleges and universities that were beaming with smart and talented students. During the opening session we were thrilled to hear from Golden Key’s CEO Brad Rainey as well as our regional directors. During the opening session we heard from a wonderful speaker, Yvette Pegues. Mrs. Pegues was the first person of color to win Ms. Wheelchair USA. During the opening ceremonies spoke on being aware of those with disabilities as well as how to take a disability and make a difference. After the opening sessions the attendees were sent out for dinner, and encouraged to make some new friends with those from all over the country.

Saturday morning began bright and early on day two of the regional summit. Luckily for many of the attendees and myself there was a Starbucks conveniently located downstairs from the meeting hall. After we loaded up on caffeine we all were ready to begin our day! To start our Saturday morning we had wonderful motivational speaker named Allegra-Lawrence-Hardy. Mrs. Hardy is a fellow Golden Key member and graduate of Yale law school. Mrs. Hardy gave us a very informative speech on how to be a servant leader. After Mrs. Hardy finished the attendees participated in workshops on different topics. These workshops were opportunities for many of the attendees to learn from professional development, communication, and stress management skills that they could take back to their prospective universities and share with their members.

After the workshops it was time for everyone to have a little fun. Some of the attendees went and view the historic civil rights museum or the 1996 Olympic rings. Other attendees rode the new Atlanta streetcar that toured parts of Atlanta and some students went to the infamous Lenox mall to do a little retail therapy.

After lunch was over, the attendees all came back together to have an officer round table and to discuss how our experience has been while being and officer as well as to give advice to others on how to become an officer. After the officer round table discussion, the attendees all reconvene for a Spark a Change Mind Melt. This was an opportunity to meet others from different universities as well as brainstorm ideas on how to make Spark a Change events possible at our respective universities.

After the Spark A Change event, the attendees all return to their rooms to get ready for our Gala Dinner. This was our last event all together as one big group and many were sad to see the summit end. The weekend had been so extraordinary that having a nice, fancy sit down dinner was the only way to end this wonderful weekend! After dinner many numbers were exchanged and I definitely have enjoyed keeping in contact with my new friends all over the country and the world.

Written by JaBreia James – Kennesaw State University

Golden Key San Diego Regional Summit 2016

August 1, 2016

Golden Key’s San Diego Regional Summit brought together members from US Regions 6, 7, and 8 for a sunny weekend in Southern California. Delegates arrived at the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay on Friday, March 5, where they were given the option to attend outings to either Mission Beach or the Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego. That evening attendees gathered in the Mission Ballroom for the Welcome Session where students and advisors were welcomed to the summit and received information about the regions in attendance. After the Welcome Session, students were free to explore while advisors attended the Advisor Reception at the hotel where they were able to network and get to know one another.

Regional Summit San Diego 2016

Saturday morning started off with Opening Session which included a headquarters update from Executive Director Brad Rainey and the associate directors of the regions in attendance. The session ended with Keynote Speaker Dr. Narissra Carter who shared her family’s story with the attendees and inspired delegates to never give up. After Dr. Carter’s speech, delegates broke up and attended one of three different workshop options. Workshops were held in various meeting rooms throughout the hotel. Following this was another set of workshops where delegates got to choose between learning about relationships, income inequality, stress management, or passion and purpose.

Attendees were free to eat lunch on their own, and many walked the short distance down to Mission Beach to eat at one of the many restaurants there. When they returned, Workshop Block Three consisted of workshops on alumni relationships, an advisor roundtable, or an officer roundtable. At the roundtables, officers and advisors were able to interact with others attending their respective sessions and share and brainstorm ideas with the staff of Golden Key and members of the organization’s leadership. After this Workshop Block, delegates participated in Spark-a-Change Melt where they brainstormed ideas to questions posed about Golden Key’s Spark-a-Change initiative and wrote encouraging notes to the students who will be attending the summer program Golden Key is hosting. Lastly, Associate Director for Region 7, Matt Miller, offered the closing remarks.

Saturday night, attendees gathered for the Gala Dinner in the Banyan Court at the hotel. While eating dinner, delegates were able to interact and get to know each other while sharing their favorite experiences from the weekend.

Written by Kellie Rollins – University of California, Los Angeles

“Someone else will make the choice if you don’t.”

July 1, 2016


On Saturday, 2 July Australians will be voting to elect all 226 members of Parliament in the first double dissolution election since 1987.

Earlier in the year, as part of the Golden Key Asia-Pacific Conference 2016: Be the Change in February, a Q&A Panel discussion centred upon the topic of “Why should I care about politics?” to question the importance of politics and political engagement, particularly regarding the younger generation. This panel was especially pertinent as 2016 is an important year for politics with the Australian federal election on July 2 and the United States presidential election on November 8.

Recent figures from the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) show that the 18 to 24-year-old demographic has the worst numbers on voter enrolment. Approximately half of all 18-year-olds, and a total of nearly 350,000 young people, are not enrolled to vote in the upcoming federal election where voting is mandatory.

Discussion topics included issues such as disenchantment with Australian politics and a lack of representation within the political parties for matters that notably concerned younger Australians. Also discussed was the accusation that political parties are more concerned with holding power than implementing policy change and social progression. Students in the audience were encouraged not to disengage with politics, as panel member Dr Andrea Carson succinctly stated: “Someone else will make the choice if you don’t.”

The panel examined the importance of mandatory voting and how the youth vote carries significant power in shaping the future. In countries like Australia and the United States, being able to vote is a democratic right and something that all of us need to take responsibility for. This point was emphasised by panel member Akram Azimi who noted that democracy was not a universal privilege open to all, as his family had arrived in Australia 13 years ago from Afghanistan.

The panel was made up of prominent members of the community. This included: Akram Azimi, 2013 Young Australian of the Year; Adam Bandt MP, the Federal Member for Melbourne; Dr Andrea Carson, Media and Politics lecturer at the University of Melbourne; and Professor Michael Leach, Professor in Politics and International Relations at Swinburne University of Technology. The discussion was moderated by Frances Bell, a Victorian State Political reporter with the ABC News.

Community Service in Cambodia

June 17, 2016


In early April 2016, four students of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) – Kenneth Chaw Vui Ken, Aniza Hanis binti Abd Aziz, Ho Woon Ping, and Maria Ameina binti Ahmad, completed eight days of community service in Takeo Cambodia as part of their Chapter’s Golden Key community service. The hours contributed by our three members, will goes towards the SPARK a Change initiative.

These students were placed at Happy Land of Caring for the Poor and Orphaned Children Foundation (CPOC) for eight days where they worked alongside ten other volunteers from various countries to help improve the education facilities of the province.


Activities during the volunteers’ stay included teaching the children Mathematics and English every evening between the hours of 2-6pm. Classes were divided according to age, with most students aged between 12-16 years. Besides teaching, UTM volunteers also aided in improving the facilities of the centre, such as making a door and renovating the volunteer house and school, and building a chicken coop. Volunteers also put up a fence around the centre to keep the children safe and also met and interacted with the local community through sports and games. The experience was educational and eye-opening for the volunteers as they learnt about the economic, cultural and educational differences between their own country and Cambodia.

This rewarding experience required a lot of preparation prior to departure, with students crowdfunding their venture several months in advance. This was done through social media and a physical booth set up on university campus where funders were given a sticker to write wishes and messages for the children helped by CPOC. The money raised from this initiative surpassed expectations which meant that school supplies such as books, stationery and a bookshelf were bought for the centre to be used by the children.


SPARK a Change is our global service initiative with the mission to bring all our Chapters together towards a common objective: to impact and improve the lives of at-risk youth across the globe through literacy, education and real-world preparedness.