When it comes to networking for nonprofits, the more people who know about you and your cause, the more successful your nonprofit will be. Nonprofit blogger Beth Kanter says, “Your professional network is your greatest asset no matter what stage you are in your nonprofit career … When you intentionally build your professional network in the right way, you create a circle of individuals who are all rooting for your success and happy to help you.”
Whether you’re a seasoned networking pro or an emerging leader looking to make yourself (and your cause) known, we have some business networking tips for you:
Business networking tips
- First impressions are everything: You have seven seconds to make your first impression. When networking for nonprofits, you must make every second count—introduce yourself and your cause, give a genuine smile, make eye contact and shake hands. Once acquainted, remember—do just as much listening as talking. You’re there to network, not to dominate the conversation.
- Diversify your networking portfolio: Are you getting all you can from your professional network? The saying “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” applies here, too. Take a look at your contacts’ age, gender, organization, position, area of expertise and geographic location. Then, make an effort to achieve balance. For instance, if your group tends to sway more senior in age, consider joining a young professionals group. Or, if your network is predominantly male, acquaint yourself with a “women in business” group.
- Ask not what your people can do for you, but what you can do for your people: Life Optimizer blogger Donald Latumahnia says, “Real networking is about finding ways to make other people more successful. It is sharing your knowledge and resources, time and energy, friends and associates … in a continual effort to provide value to others, while coincidentally increasing your own.” In other words, what goes around comes around. Next time you’re at a networking event, try the phrase, “How can I help you?” You’ll stand out from the crowd when you’re known for helping others.
- Leave a lasting mark: After you’ve made a positive first impression, it’s up to you to make it last. Achieve success by providing a little something new acquaintances can remember you by, like a business card magnet, notepad or clip . And always follow up after a first meeting. A simple email or an invitation to connect on LinkedIn® are great ways to stay in touch. If a mutually beneficial relationship is on the horizon, consider sending an invitation to connect at a later date, perhaps for coffee or lunch. Always send a thank you for any in-person meeting. A handwritten note accompanied by a logo’d pen or smart phone wallet is sure to be well received.
When it comes to networking for nonprofits, remember these business networking tips: Make good impressions, first and lasting. Don’t make it all about you; focus on what you can do for others. Finally, diversify your professional network—a wide range of ages, organizations and skillsets will ensure you get everything you can out of your network. Now get out there and expand your network! Best of luck!