This post was sponsored by Sticker Mule
“Your network is your net-worth.” I’m sure you’ve all heard that phrase. Connectivity is king in the modern workplace, just as it has been for years. It just may look a little different now.
Your network can now span across continents in a way it couldn’t before. While your online connections may be numerous, they may not be as deep as you’d like them to be. A quality network is one that balances the quantity and quality of your connections.
It may seem like a daunting task, but it’s really as simple as combining the old with the new ― a mix of face-to-face interactions with online, consistent contact. We’ll walk you through it.
Use social media as your bridge into the community. If you’re just starting out as a nonprofit, it can be hard to know who the big names in the industry are ― let alone where the networking events are. But social media can start by introducing you to the community from afar.
Follow some of your favorite nonprofits on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. These are all important, but Facebook is where the real action happens in the nonprofit community. Which nonprofits inspired you to start your own?
You can expand your digital network by looking at who those nonprofits are following. Maybe a name keeps popping up on their feed, maybe you keep hearing about this new conference coming up. Don’t be afraid to dive in!
Once you’ve discovered the online community, try to find some Facebook groups to join. Also keep an eye out for events happening in your area!
While you’re browsing socials, start looking for events happening in the industry. Maybe there’s a really cool conference coming up or smaller, community events with local business owners. Once you’ve found an event or two that interests you, start going to them. Maybe bring a friend to your first few events if you don’t know anyone yet.
Now it’s time for (in my opinion) the hardest part ― talking to strangers. There are little things you can do to make yourself look more approachable. Don’t hide in the corner, put yourself in the center of the action. You can either wait for others to approach you, or initiate the conversation yourself.
An easy way to start a conversation is to begin with a question. “How’d you get into ___?” is a good one. Or if there was a speaker or activity at the event, ask, “What did you think of ___?” Once you get the conversation started, it gets easier from there.
Conversations could also be easier if you’ve already connected online. Maybe you attended the same webinar or are following the same person. Little connections make a difference in building a stronger one.
If you meet someone at one of these events where you really connect with them, or you simply want to learn more about what they do, invite them for coffee! This is in no way a formal meeting. Imagine it like you’re catching up with an old friend. Ask questions about their life, their business and their hobbies. Learning more about their organization will make them feel more connected with yours.
Bond over things you have in common. Maybe you like the same TV show or you both only drink black coffee. Or maybe the custom laptop stickers from Sticker Mule will spark a conversation!
Make sure you are genuine. Don’t go into this meeting expecting to get something out of it. Just start talking, person to person, and the opportunities will follow. Once you’ve established a connection, your name will be in their minds when they’re planning for their next big thing.