How to build an authentic network in a post-pandemic era – Viva la Vida at FS
Student Initiatives / 23. November 2022
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BSc in Management, Philosophy & Economics Class of 2023
Francesca is very passionate about her studies at Frankfurt School, making her a perfect fit for her position as student representative for the FS Student Council. In addition, she takes part in various FS initiatives such as FS Women in Business and FS Charity.


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Digital social networking is harder than we think, maybe not technologically, but certainly socially. A common reason it is so challenging to network online is that interactions are limited, and people have problems sharing their personal topics with „strangers“, making it very hard for them to build authentic relationships on the internet. The lack of sincere interpersonal connection has significantly impacted people’s daily lives.

The student initiative FS Charity is committed to raising awareness on important social issues among students and has organised numerous successful ESG-related events in the past. For an event on the 4th of November, Xiaoning Lyu, German chancellor fellow, Forbes 30 under 30 and founder of Viva la Vida, was invited to share her insights on how she uses art to help people connect and how she started her ventures.

A soul-touching experience

To start off the event, Xiaoning shared how she started Viva la Vida through a worldwide street experiment and how she is proceeding to initiate a charity fund. Her inspiring story about how to help underprivileged social groups motivated us students to face our challenges and move outside of our comfort zones. She also highlighted that geopolitical and epidemic influences will require young people to face more challenges and undertake their social responsibilities in all sectors. Furthermore, she encouraged us to be bold enough to let our voices be heard and our demands taken seriously by society.

As a consultant at UNDP (United Nations Development Program) and the deputy of G20 YEA (G20 Young Entrepreneur Alliance), she also shared many precious insights on starting ventures. In the discussion, she pointed out that there is no such thing as the ideal entrepreneurial personality. Everyone has their own character, and everyone can play to their strengths and make great achievements together as a team. Great teamwork can take you places!

During the Q&A session, Xiaoning answered various questions regarding fundraising, founding her own businesses and personal experiences. Her constructive answers gave students from different FS academic programmes many inspiring ideas.

Redefining networking

The importance of building a network is obvious; Frankfurt School always encourages students to build a network for their career even before graduating and gives multiple opportunities to network. However, in the last couple of years, students had to network online due to the pandemic, which created a bit of a dilemma.

After sharing a bit about her life, Xiaoning shared her point of view on the future of work and how to network effectively with people online while building authentic relationships. She believes it is a challenge everybody must face in the post-pandemic era.

Viva speed networking

„Viva speed networking“ was introduced as an innovative method for students to get to know each other. Firstly, we could only introduce ourselves with our names and pronouns. Then, we connected by answering three given questions in the form of drawings and by sharing our stories behind them. This way, a feeling of trust was generated among the participants, and we were all amazed at how close you can get to a stranger you just met.

Students‘ drawings from the virtual networking session

After the event, many participants pointed out that, unlike other traditional networking events, they started out as „strangers“, and the event did not only help them to make some new connections but also inspired them to reflect on themselves by thinking about some of the meaningful questions raised during the event. In addition, students started to use art to explore their feelings even if they were not good at drawing.

Overall, it was a very inspirational event and I would like to thank Xiaoning Lyu for taking the time to come to FS and FS Charity for organising the event!

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