To get ahead in your career, it helps to have connections that can lead to bigger and better things. From schmoozing and scheduling to socializing and speaking, networking is a nice way to grow both personally and professionally.

It can take some practice to get your networking skills down but as you continue to meet new people and perfect your pitch, you will find that networking can enhance your professionalism and productivity.

Here are some wonderful ways to network, from online to in-person. Try one or test them all, as the more you expand your circle, the better your chance for meeting the right people who can steer you towards success. And vice versa.

Trade Show/Conference

Trade show customerattraction.com

Big and bustling, trade shows and conferences reel in the masses. As you spend a day or two networking in a "big pond," you'll work the room and make the most of like-minded individuals who converge to connect. As recommended by Idealist Careers, "If you can, figure out who will be at the conference ahead of time and try schedule a time to meet." This way, you can hone in on a few key people who will bring the "quality" to the "quantity." Then again, you never know who you may bump into, so leave your options open and be willing to keep your schedule loose. Exchange contact info and follow up swiftly.

LinkedIn

LinkedInhttps://im.mtv.fi

Hop online and use the power of the web to work up key connections. As Walsworth notes, "Like any social site, LinkedIn is about networking, but because it is a site that's focused on professionals and businesses, your company can network effectively with prospective client organizations." Just remember, this isn't like Facebook or Twitter where the entertainment value is at the forefront. Walsworth recommends, "Don't link with people just to build the number of connections you have. Use your connect requests more strategically to engage and build relationships with your target customers and influencers in your market space." Like Dummies points out, "You can connect with past co-workers, employers, and Fortune 500 executives. You never know who will accept your invitation."

College Alumni Association

Alumni association www.lycoming.edu

The perks of a college education don't end at graduation. Keep your college connections current by being actively involved with your alumni association. As per The Muse, "If you live in a large city, there's likely some kind of alumni organization already set up there. Either way though, you should reach out to your school's alumni center and ask how to get in touch with local alums. Then, take the next step and actually attend the events." Having that common bond breaks the ice. The next step is to find ways to move from the classroom to the board room and prove that your alma mater matters.

Past Employers

Past employer economicdevelopment.org

No matter your reason for moving on from a previous job, maintaining a professional and cordial relationship with past employer(s) can help you down the line. Never leave a job with a bad taste in anyone's mouth, even if you were fired or left on less-than-ideal terms. As The Muse explains, "Upper level managers tend to be well-connected. So, maintaining a friendly relationship with previous employers is important and beneficial for you in the long run. They'll likely be willing to introduce you to some of their own connections, as well as give you a heads up about opportunities you might be interested in." One day, when you're in their position, you can pay it forward to the up-and-comers seeking your level of success.

Charity Events/Volunteer

Volunteer media.glassdoor.com

Giving back is a gift in of itself, but your charitable sensibilities can help you in your professional life too. This win-win scenario is a surefire way to network with both care and a cause in mind. According to Small Biz Club, "Charity events are often the best place to meet wealthy and serious investors, and attending an industry-specific charity event can be a boon to your business in terms of networking." Idealist Careers adds, "Volunteering allows you to help others, meet people who share your passion, and learn more about your community." And isn't that what networking is all about?

So go on. Get out there and network! New faces, new places, and new experiences are waiting for you to make the first move.

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Over the past month, both Haiti and Afghanistan have been pummeled by tragic disasters that left devastation in their wake.

In Haiti, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake erupted, leading over to 2,189 deaths and counting. A few hours later, in Afghanistan, Kabul fell to the Taliban just after U.S. troops had pulled out after 20 years of war.

In many ways, these disasters are both chillingly connected to US interference. The United States invaded Haiti in 1915, ostensibly promising to restore order after a presidential assassination but really intending to preserve the route to the Panama Canal and to defend US creditors, among other reasons.

But the US forces soon realized that they were not able to control the country alone, and so formed an army of Haitian enlistees, powered by US air power and intended to quell Haitian insurrection against US controls. Then, in 1934, the US pulled out on its own, disappointed with how slow progress was going. Haiti's institutions were never really able to rebuild themselves, leaving them immensely vulnerable to natural disasters.

Something similar happened in Afghanistan, where the US sent troops and supported an insurgent Afghan army – only to pull out, abandoning the country they left in ruins, with many Afghans supporting the Taliban.

In both cases, defense contractors benefited by far the most from the conflict, making billions in profits while civilians faced fallout and devastation. While the conflicts and circumstances are extremely different and while the US is obviously not solely to blame for either crisis, it's hard not to see the US-based roots of these disasters.

Today, in Haiti and Afghanistan, civilians are facing unimaginable tragedy.

Here are charities offering support in Afghanistan:

1. The International Rescue Committee is looking to raise $10 million to deliver aid directly to Afghanistan

2. CARE is matching donations for an Afghanistan relief fund. They are providing food, shelter, and water to families in need; a donation of $89.50 covers 1 family's emergency needs for a month.

3. Women for Women International is matching donations up to 500,000 for Afghan women, who will be facing unimaginable horrors under Taliban control.


4. AfghanAid offers support for people living in remote regions of Afghanistan.

5. VitalVoices supports female leaders and changemakers and survivors of gender-based violence around the world.

Here are charities offering support in Haiti:

1. Partners in Health has been working with Haiti for a long time, and they work with the Department of Health rather than around them, which is extremely important in a charity.

2. Health Equity International helps run Saint Boniface Hospital, a hospital in Haiti close to the earthquake's epicenter.

3. SOIL is an organization based Haiti, "a local organization with a track record of supporting after natural disasters." They are distributing hygiene kits and provisions on the ground to hospitals and to victims of the earthquake.

4. Hope for Haiti has been working in emergency response in Haiti for three decades, and their team is comprised of people who live and work in Haiti. They focus on supporting children and people in need across Haiti.

via Tiffany & Co.

When the new Tiffany's campaign was unveiled, reactions were mixed.

Tiffany's, the iconic jewelry brand which does not (despite what some might be misled to believe) in fact serve breakfast, featured Jay Z, Beyoncé, and a rare Basquiat painting in their recent campaign.

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Road trips can be a lot of fun — but they can also drain your wallet quickly if you aren't careful.

From high gas costs and park admission fares to lodging and the price of eating out every night, the expenses can add up quickly. But at the same time, it's very possible to do road trips cheaply and efficiently. Without the headache of worrying about how much money you're leaking, you can enjoy the open road a whole lot more. Here's how to save money on a road trip.

1. Prepare Your Budget, Route, and Packing List in Advance

If you want to save money on a road trip, be sure you're ready to go. Try to count up all your expenses before you hit the road and create a budget. It's also a good idea to plan your route in advance so you don't end up taking unnecessary, gas-guzzling detours. And finally, be sure to pack in advance so you don't find yourself having to buy tons of things you forgot along the way.

2. Book Cheap Accommodations — Or Try Camping

All those motel rooms can add up surprisingly quick, but camping is often cheap or free, and it's a great way to get intimate with the place you're visiting. You can check the Bureau of Land Management's website for free campsites. Freecampsite.com also provides great information on If you don't have a tent or don't want to camp every night, try booking cheap Airbnbs or booking hotels in advance, making sure to compare prices.

Camping camping road tripConde Nast Traveler

If you're planning on sleeping in your car, a few tips: WalMart allows all-night parking, as do many 24-hour gyms. (Buying a membership to Planet Fitness or something like it also gives you a great place to stop, shower, and recharge while on the road).

3. Bring Food From Home

Don't go on a road trip expecting to subsist on fast food alone. You'll wind up feeling like shit, and it'll drain your pocketbook stunningly quickly. Instead, be sure to bring food from home. Consider buying a gas stove and a coffee pot for easy on-the-go meals, and make sure you bring substantial snacks to satiate midday or late night cravings so you can avoid getting those late night Mickey D's expeditions.

Try bringing your own cooler, filling it with easy stuff for breakfast and lunch — some bread and peanut butter and jelly will go a long way. Bring your own utensils, plates, and napkins, and avoid buying bottled water by packing some big water jugs and a reusable water bottle. Alternatively, try staying at hotels or Airbnbs with kitchens so you can cook there.

4. Avoid Tolls

Apps like Google Maps and Waze point out toll locations, so be sure to avoid those to save those pennies. (If it takes you too far off route, you might have to bite the bullet and drive across that expensive bridge).

You can also save on parking fees by using sites like Parkopedia.

Road Trip Road TripThe Orange Backpack


5. Save on Gas

Gas can get pricy incredibly fast, so be sure that you're stopping at cheap gas stations. Free apps like GasBuddy help you find the most affordable gas prices in the area. Also, try going the speed limit on the highways — anything faster will burn through your tank. Be sure that you don't wait till you arrive at touristy locations or big cities to fill up.

6. Get a National Park Pass

All those parks can get really expensive really fast. If you're planning on visiting three or more parks, it's a great idea to get an America the Beautiful National Parks Pass. For $80 you can get into every National Park for one year.