Networking can be a daunting prospect. But it’s essential to having a successful nonprofit organization, so being prepared is vital. It doesn’t have to feel like a chore if you’re an introvert. Try these tips for fundraisers who hate networking:
Work out exactly what you want to get out of the event in advance. Make sure to have a tight elevator pitch ready to go, and bring plenty of business cards so you can focus on making your interactions count in the moment. But don’t try to stick to a strict script ― let yourself be in the moment.
You may think you are the only secretly uncomfortable or nervous introvert at the event, but remember that everyone is human and a lot of people are feeling the same way. Be open, be yourself, and don’t force it ― just start conversations casually and focus on making a human connection with other people first and the business side of things will follow.
Another thing to bear in mind is that the other people attending the event are looking for new businesses and brands to connect with ― in other words, you are the perfect solution for some lucky business out there! Talk to as many different people as you can and remember that, while you are also seeking the right company to work with, they are on the look-out for you, too. Remember when you initiate a conversation to put your best (and by best, we mean most generous) foot forward. Show them what you can offer before you ask for something in return.
Not every networking event will be suitable for your business or brand, so be selective and identify the events that will potentially be the most fruitful. Christina Battista, a business writer at Elite Assignment Help and State of Writing, says: “There are plenty of tools to help you do this, such as Eventbrite and Meetup, which have countless listings.” Talk to other businesses for recommendations of good events and try to attend events that may be outside of your usual comfort zone. This will help expose you to new audiences and present different opportunities for you and your business.
The best way to make sure you stay involved in networking events is to make it a part of your regular routine ― schedule in an event on a monthly basis, for instance, to ensure you are nurturing the relationships you make with donors, partners, or other corporate or community entities. This will pave the way for following up with more exclusive meetings. Connecting with someone a few times at a group event will make them more likely to accept an invitation to a friendlier, one-on-one conversation.
There are so many benefits to turning up early, especially for those who are less comfortable with the whole networking process. Firstly, it will make the first few minutes much less daunting and more accessible, since you can settle in while the crowd is small. It also places you in the position of greeting people as they arrive, rather than trying to introduce yourself to an entire room full of people. This also puts you in their minds as a friendly welcoming face and relieves them of the awkwardness of trying to approach people themselves. This will also make you come off as confident, approachable, and ― most importantly ― memorable.
Joseph Dailey, a project manager at Academized and Academadvisor, explains: “Get in touch with the person/people organizing the events you attend beforehand to form a personal relationship before you even arrive ― ask them questions and see if they have any recommendations for who to talk to.” Then, once you arrive, make contact with them again before you begin to work the room and they may even be able to facilitate certain interactions and make introductions.
Don’t go into events expecting to talk to every single person ― focus on creating meaningful, memorable interactions with select individuals. Still try to keep the conversations short and sweet, exchange business cards, and move on!
At the end of the day, just be personable and try not to get caught up in being perfectly professional. Simply be prepared and be yourself!