Symposium imageThe 6th University Scholars Leadership Symposium will commence on August 1, 2015 in Hong Kong. The week-long event aims to bring students and NGO workers around the world together to encounter different cultures, participate in leadership workshops and network with like-minded people.

The theme of the USL Symposium 2015 is Enrich, Educate, Enlighten. The annual leadership program is hosted by Humanitarian Affairs United Kingdom in partnership with Humanitarian Affairs Asia. The 6th USL Symposium is specifically designed to impart the next generation’s leaders with valuable life-skills and knowledge that are essential to build a successful career.

In order to achieve this, the conference offers brings in professional life coaches and TED speakers, most notably Chandran Nair, CEO of Global Institute for Tomorrow, and the spokesman of Crossroads Foundation, David Begbie. 10 invited guest lecturers, faculty observers from top universities and youth delegates will interact and build connections during guided plenary sessions.

Since the rise of new management theory based on the principles of collaboration, a trend of NGO networks and alliances ensued during the past two decades. Three major benefits motivate NGOs to participate in networking opportunities

Exchanging Information

Sharing information is an essential part of social life, and despite the novelty of the term, ‘networking’ is a new name for an old practice. Participants in a conference or a symposium expand on available information through speakers, workshop leaders and fellow participants. This first advantage is the most obvious and perhaps most influential in an NGO’s decision to participate; if any one of either content, timing or format of a conference is inappropriate, NGOs will opt out.

Procuring Partnerships

With exceptions, most NGOs are small in terms of staff and economic impact. To say that making a difference on their own is challenging would be an understatement. Cooperation, therefore, is imperative for NGOs who are eager to scale-up their activities and enhance their impact. Conferences are a formal opportunity to invite cooperation from relevant organizations.

Improving Performance

The ultimate goal of a networking conference is to improve the performance of the organization through becoming better informed or by arriving at a cooperation either through formal contracts, standing agreements or ad hoc arrangements. If the organization’s culture does not allow extensive collaboration, an NGO can nevertheless restructure themselves after a more successful peer organization to serve their target demographic better.

Define Your Objective

When attending a conference or becoming a member of a network group, define which one – or more – of the three motivations propels your decision. Do you want to further your knowledge of the community you aim to serve? Are you looking for a peer organization that share the same ground? Or do you need a paradigm shift in the infrastructure? Be strategic in your participation.

Also, Be Realistic

Weigh the resource commitment required to participate in a conference, be it time or fee, against the potential benefit of the participation. How authoritative are the speakers? Will the conference be efficiently run? Conversely, be aware of the internal capacity of yourself and your organization to benefit from the networking opportunity. Do you have the prerequisite to absorb the information and partnerships you will earn and use it for future development?

The definitions Non-governmental organization and Non-profit organization are negative; they define a group by what it is not rather than what it is. The umbrella terms inevitably occasion heterogeneity in every aspect – aim, members, sponsors, function, nationality, history, size, the list goes on – which makes it simultaneously critical and challenging to identify relevant information, potential partners and appropriate role models. Networking event is one possible resolution to the challenge.

Watch: A student from UBC who participated in the symposium in the past shares how the event impacted her: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VnuaTHgtsM.

To find about participating in the USLS, please click here or email tara.lee@humanitarianaffiars.org.uk.  before the deadline of May 30.

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