7 Networking Tips for Nonprofits
Love it or hate it, networking is an integral part of any job, especially one in the nonprofit sector! We want networking to be a little less intimidating; check out these 7 tips that will help you become an expert.
Yes, you need to network before you network! If you are attending a meet-up or conference, you will likely be able to see a list of people attending. Browse this list for someone you'd like to talk to and shoot them a message on LinkedIn beforehand! Mobile Cause recommends checking out the event's social media presence. They will likely have dedicated accounts or hashtags; find other people interacting with these accounts and send them a direct message.
2. be prepared and Have a Plan
Going into any kind of networking environment blind can be intimidating; having a plan can help ease some of your nerves! Have a list of people you want to talk to and sessions you don't want to miss. However, it is also important to leave room for serendipitous encounters; you never know who you'll meet where! Here are a few more tips to help you be prepared:
- Bring extra business cards!
- Research the background and organizations of people you are interested in talking to
- Plan to arrive early! This will help help ensure you catch important people before they're too busy
- Volunteer to help! Helping with something like event clean-up can often give you valuable time with a smaller group of people
3. go to a conference
Conferences are a great way to meet people in the nonprofit sector; and there are many that are tailored to specific fields or areas of interest. Conferences can be expensive so do your research and pick the one or two that will be the most meaningful. Check out these links for annual nonprofit conferences you may be interested in here, here and here.
4. Find a Local "Meet-Up"
Meet-ups are a smaller-scale way to get face-to-face interaction with new connections. These meet-ups don't necessarily need to be directly related to your nonprofit's field! Check out sits like Eventbrite and Meetup to see what's going on in your city.
5. Network Online
Networking is not limited to in-person conversations! A lot of great connections can be made from behind a screen. Comment on relevant articles, message people on LinkedIn or connect via social media!
6. Follow Up
This is key! People are busy; even if you had a great conversation, your contacts are human and may need a reminder. After you receive someone's business card, it can be helpful to jot down a note about your conversation to jog your memory after the fact. Once you're home, send a quick email re-introducing yourself and keep in contact to continue building your relationship!
7. Remember, It's Not All Business!
Although the main goal of networking is likely related to impacting your nonprofit organization, that shouldn't be the only thing discussed! You are more likely to leave a lasting impressions if you find a commonality with the person you're networking with. Maybe you both went to the same college, or love to watch baseball; find that one thing that will make your conversation stand out!
If you have more questions about nonprofit strategy you can always reach out to the DipJar fundraising experts for help. It's what we love to do!