Now that internship season is heating up and we are all eager to find the perfect summer placement.  Then, we realize that we have to do something we’ve been dreading: networking.  As much as we all dread networking, it is a necessary evil in the world. However, networking with conservatives is FAR less painful, and far more rewarding.

First, you have to realize the importance of networking. As tiring or silly as it may seem at times, the best way to ensure a future internship, job, career, friendship or LinkedIn connection is through good networking skills. While it may seem silly to do what I call “professional flirting” at times, you will never regret having chosen to do so.  Networking is a skill that you can consistently work towards perfecting, and that will serve you well no matter what path you take in life.

As much as networking is important, networking with conservatives is even more important if you want to be actively involved, or gainfully employed, in the conservative movement.  The conservative movement, especially in Washington D.C., is tight-knit. Do not take for granted the ability to meet another conservatives, network with them, share your views and hopes for the future, et cetera et cetera.

You know that networking with conservatives is important for conservatives, but where do you meet these conservatives? If you’re like me and go to an extremely liberal university, you may be hard pressed to find conservatives that want to network with you. However, do not count yourself out of the game. Even on my liberal campus, there is a group that brings conservative speakers to campus, and because the group is so small, we often get to go out to dinner with them. Sitting down in a small group with an influential conservative is a great way to network, make connections, and learn so much about the movement and their thoughts.  Keep your eye out for any and every opportunity to network with other conservatives, whether that be at school, on the job, in the community, or at conservative events in the area.

Two things I cannot stress enough during the networking process are embodying conservative values when you speak, and avoiding burning bridges.  If you are trying to network with other conservatives as a conservative yourself, keep that in mind. Do not act like a liberal. Don’t launch ad hominem attacks.  Another important aspect of networking in the small conservative movement in knowing how to avoid burning bridges. Especially during an election year, we will all have a wide variety of feelings on bills, laws, politicians, and candidates. Tread lightly. It is perfectly acceptable to have differing opinions than others, even within your own movement, but you probably aren’t going to call it a successful networking opportunity if you just bashed their favorite candidate rudely.

Networking with fellow conservatives is an amazing way to meet like-minded people while also learning a lot about the movement you are involved in. Never take it for granted. The conservative movement is tight-knit for a reason, and while people are more than happy to welcome you into the movement, you should earn your keep. While we, the young conservatives of today, are eager to network with more experienced conservatives, we should keep in mind that there may be other young conservatives, or even younger ones, who look to us for networking opportunities. Keep your mind and your heart open, and never be afraid to network like (and with) a conservative.