Shaking Hands with our Former Vice President: The Importance of Connecting

This post was written by TeenSHARPie Alexander Sharpe, a current sophomore at Appoquinimink High School.

I had the opportunity to meet former Vice-President Joe Biden on a TeenSHARP affiliated trip to Washington, D.C. this past January. My skills in connecting allowed me to remain confident when talking to other important politicians such as Delaware congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester, Delaware governor John Carney and Delaware Senator Chris Coons at the Library of Congress. This experience was very rewarding for me as these are people I have been wanting to meet, especially former Vice-President Joe Biden. Both the former vice president and I are from Delaware, and we share many of the same political views. I was particularly honored when Biden asked about TeenSHARP, displaying that he had interest in the program. I was able to explain to him what TeenSHARP was and its importance.   As a connector, I was able to gain valuable information from these local and national leaders.

A connector is one of the most important people in a group, as they lead the group in communication and networking. As a connector, I am able to meet new people that may be able to support and fund TeenSharp in the future and introduce me to other important people. Networking brings together groups of people with a central goal in mind. With TeenSHARP, that central goal is helping high school students attend elite colleges and universities with the support of a scholarship they have earned through the program. Communication is one of the essential ways groups accomplish tasks. Through communication exercizes, more can get done in a shorter amount of time.

The attributes of a connector include being able to articulate your thoughts and opinions, good conversation skills, intelligence on subject matter and self confidence. The ability to share your thoughts and opinions with people in a convincing way can cause them to support your ideas. An example of this is when TeenSHARP students partnered with Junior Achievement to create organizations that would help solve hatred and racial discrimination issues in the United States. The challenge was to convince people to help support your organization by donating money. Participants in the group had to tell the donors of the great cause they were supporting and why they should do it. A connector requires conversation skills that make people want to engage and converse with the connector. The ability to keep people interested in your conversation is an essential trait a connector must have. Intelligence of the subject matter being discussed is crucial for a connector as this knowledge can make more people want to associate with you. When people hear someone else talk about a topic they have interest in, it causes them to become more accepting of the person. A connector must have a high regard for self confidence and courage as it allows them to approach certain people that others would be too intimidated to speak with. When I met former Vice-President Joe Biden, it took a great deal of courage and confidence to speak with him about myself and TeenSHARP. These character traits of a connector can advance you to meet greater people and lead to a stronger network of associates.
When TeenSHARP gave me the Connector award in December, I was honored that I was chosen to become the face of connectors in the program. I now want to encourage other students in the program the importance of having connections and networking. The greater the amount of people in your network, the greater chance you have of advancing in education and in your future career. I have heard many times that life is about who you know. As a connector, I try to meet as many people as possible to further advance myself with the hope of attending college. When other students increase their connecting skills, they too will be able to experience the advantages a young connector receives.