Every Miss America local, state, and national titleholder needs to know how to network and work a room. From fundraising events and cocktail parties, to pancake breakfasts and Rotary club meetings, you will make dozens, if not hundreds of appearances. Having strong networking skills will help you build relationships in the world of pageantry, in your community, and in your field of expertise. Here are some tips for successful networking during your year of service.
Enter with a positive attitude: Approach social events with an air of excitement that tells people you want to be present and engaged. If you appear disinterested, no one will be compelled to talk to you.
Take risks: Be willing to take risks and introduce yourself to people you don’t know. People will appreciate that you took the first step and will be impressed with your self-awareness and confidence. By engaging with others in an active way, you show that you genuinely care about the community you seek to represent. If you don’t get the response you hoped for, that’s ok. Don’t take it personally and graciously move on to someone else.
Be a good listener: As pageant competitors, you are taught to constantly sell who you are and what you have to offer. Don’t forget to be humble and listen up from time to time. Make sure the conversation has a good give and take. Ask questions and listen to the answers. Be vibrant with your facial expressions and make good eye contact.
Learn names: As a titleholder, you live in the spotlight. Therefore, you will meet hundreds of people who will likely already know your name. You have the difficult task of remembering the names of hundreds of volunteers and community leaders. Addressing people by name when you speak to them shows that you have taken a genuine interest in them. As you develop a rapport, learn the names of their children, parents, or spouse. Know who the people are behind the scenes, including local and state directors, sponsors, and volunteers.
As a pageant contestant, you need to be “on” all the time. You face a very delicate balance between exuding confidence and projecting arrogance. It’s important to be relatable and approachable at all times. Your success is dependent upon building quality relationships as you strive to be a leader in any community, let alone pageantry. Embrace your pageant community at the state, local and/or national level by becoming an active part of it. Having good networking skills will help you represent yourself and the Miss America Organization in a positive light.
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Written by: Amanda Beagle is a fourpoints magazine contributor.