Networking Offline and Online

Networking Offline and Online

I have to admit, I’m a late bloomer when it comes to networking – thankfully, though, several people in my youth (and in middle-age) helped remind me about the power of making connections….

…but sometimes, the non-profit world sees “networking” as a synonym of “schmoozing”. Or somehow, that “online engagement” simply means “posting pictures of your cat on Facebook while wearing pajamas”. There’s even the belief that working for a non-profit is simply showing up and saying, “Hey, I can solve your problems”.

So today’s post is a little bit of a networking primer, based (on some levels) on a series of guest posts I had written for Job Stalker.  At the end, I’ll provide some great opportunities for further networking and education.

  • Treat people as an ends in themselves and not a means to an end – when you’re meeting new people, it’s easy to think of them as a way to get what you require, whether it’s funding,  job leads, or resources. Consider that, when meeting someone online or offline, offering value may not lead to immediate value, but can lead to connections to value.
  • Actively question whether you need to be on social media – I have many colleagues who will insist that people “have to be” on social media…and my question usually is, “Do you have the resources to be on social media?” And “Is your audience already using social media?” When someone insists that there is a one-size-fits-all solution, remember – social media is a communications channel, not a single strategy.
  • Remember to always carry business cards with you:  Yes, there are mobile apps that allow you to scan cards into your smartphone….but having physical business cards are always an asset because you never have to rely on batteries, or failing tech – for more information, check out this past Job Stalker post.
  • Go Where Your Contacts Would Go – Chicago has a wide variety of networking events, many of which have little to do with networking. Consider shifting your attention to where your potential funders/donors/board members/employers/other resource advocates may congregate.  It may mean some creative scheduling, but why attend an event where you’re lost in the crowd when you can improve your chances?
  • Linked In = Best Research Tool – I’ve made no secret about my love of Linked In, and find it a great research tool. You can research individuals and get introductions; research other companies/agencies, as well as a variety of other tools.

So now you have some tips…and have clicked and reviewed all of the links. Would you like some recommendations to practice your skills? I have some recommendations (and am involved personally in three of them):

Finally, you are always welcome to share your comments below, and if you need to contact me, you can do so via Linked In or my web site contact page.
As always, thanks for reading!

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