Have a positive attitude about Networking (and if you don’t – change it!):
Chances are you’re feeling that your time would be better spent cultivating donors than investing the time for networking. Yes? Remember that Fundraising and networking go hand in hand. There are no shortage of
challenges in the nonprofit space so why add to those challenges by alienating others who want to achieve the same goals as your organization and YOU become the island? Put yourself out there, mingle with like-
minded, big-hearted people, and get to know other leaders on a personal level. It could be the key to your struggling non-profit’s success.
Step out of your comfort zone, have a strategy before you arrive, and boldly pitch up:
The business sector thrives on mingling at an after-work event, nametag on and drink in hand. This classic form of networking may feel like a necessary evil, but it’s all in how you approach the opportunity.
- Before you walk into the event, prepare a strategy for how you’re going to “work the room.” If you’re particularly nervous, invite a colleague to join the Networking event. Moving through the room and holding conversations is often easier in pairs.
- Have a conversation starter ready. “What brought you to this event?” or “Are you looking forward to the speaker?” You will soon figure out what feels most natural for you.
- Set yourself a goal or two (eg) plan to speak with at least five people in your field or aim to speak to one leader you have been following on Social Media .
- Know who your board and the founders of your organisation are
- Know the history of your organisation and how long you have been operating
- Be able to summarise your core business
- Have enough flyers or business cards at hand
It is important to follow up after the event:
- Ask for the attendance register (with permission from the delegates which the organiser can request) which will jog your memory as to who attending, which organisations they represented and the role they play. It will also give you their contact details should you not have got that from them, and will also remind you of the reason you want to connect with them.
- Follow up with the relevant people you met, whether through a LinkedIn connection, an email, or a note card. Just a simple “connection-reminder to start with” and then an invitation to meet up sooner rather than later.
- When arriving for your appointment – don’t be late -punctuality says a lot about your organisation!
Maintain past working relationships:
It’s all about staying connected and keeping in touch. This means with former colleagues supervisors, volunteers, Government Officials, and also people you knew in other professional capacities.
Whatever the original tie, if you had a relationship worth maintaining, put some work into staying in touch. It doesn’t have to be time-consuming or elaborate. A simple (but personalized) email or whatsapp message
or coffee meet up will do the trick. Make a point to follow updates they share on social media so you can leave a thoughtful comment or congratulations for big life events. If you come across an article that may
interest them, send it their way with a short message.
And remember, networking should be relational, not transactional. Show your connections that you truly take an interest in their careers and their lives, not just in what they can do for you.
A final note: Not all networking events are the same. Don’t let a one uncomfortable, bad event stop you from attending others. Networking is first and foremost a habit. It takes repetition!
If you would like to keep updated on our NPO Networking Events in South Africa, please contact us here.