Sept. 28, 2021

Even if you’re not attending NBAA’s Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE) next month – but especially if you are – it’s time to shake off the networking rust that many of us have accumulated over the past 18 months.

“What do you do when you have a real, live person in front of you and you want to make an impact?” asked NBAA’s Jo Damato, CAM, NBAA senior vice president education, training and workforce development at the outset of NBAA’s latest Collegiate Connect webinar. Purposefully timed with less than a month before NBAA-BACE, Damato moderated the event, “Making the Most of In-Person Networking.”

“Get people to talk and tell their own story,” advised Rekha Lyons, director of marketing and communications for Hillsboro Aviation. “They will feel good about the interaction. Then follow up and connect with them on LinkedIn.”

Lyons reminded webinar attendees that if the person gives you their business card, make sure to look at it right away. “It shows respect and interest in them,” she said.

Nate Dietsch, assistant aviation maintenance manager, Netflix, likes to use humor when meeting people for the first time.

“I also like to find three things that I can take away from the conversation,” said Dietsch. “You can always learn something from someone.” He also suggested using body language, especially because of the facial expressions that are hard to see with masks on. “Show some natural and genuine body language – just relax and be you,” he advised.

Dietsch recommended following up and staying in touch with new contacts using social media. All panelists agreed that having a presence on LinkedIn, in particular, is essential to successful networking.
NBAA Chief People Officer Annemarie Oxman, noted the importance of being authentic about who you are, even if you are nervous. “It’s okay to tell them you are nervous,” she said. “People want to see you succeed. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

Oxman recommended putting your phone away, or at least turning it off, while you are networking at a business event. “The phone is a distraction,” she noted. She also suggested using a business card case and writing reminders on the back of the business cards you receive.

Learn more about NBAA’s Collegiate Connect Day at NBAA-BACE.