I have not met a fundraising professional in my travels who does not love people. Come to think of it, everyone I meet who works for social change has a deep love for helping others. In both the business and nonprofit entity worlds, people do business with others they know, like, and trust.
We reach this point by building purpose-driven relationships with others. None of us can be all things to all people. It is important to have clarity on the things that matter most to us and to connect with people who are in the same space. We begin with core values that form the basis of how we live our lives.
Where do like-minded people spend their time? It is very likely that these folks are found in the places we frequent since we have common interests. Mindful Networking must become a habit if we want to meet these folks where they are. I define Mindful Networking as attending events or reaching out to people with the primary goal of giving them something of value.
I have found myself in the past engaging in Fear-Based Networking. You can recognize this type of networking from the rapid-fire rush by others to give you their business cards and recite their elevator pitches. How many times have you attended an event for the first time to find yourself surrounded by many of the regular members, most of whom quickly vanish when they decide that you are not buying? If your experience is anything like mine, the crowd is smaller each time you attend!
Mindful Networking requires preparation on your part. Do some research using available online tools. Call someone attached to the organization to learn about what they do. When you arrive at an event, ask the people you meet to tell you about themselves. Use their names as often as possible so that you remember them more easily. Ask about the projects they are working on and what they need next.
Take genuine interest in what they are telling you. You will learn what things are most important to them by actively listening. If you have knowledge of a person or resource that may be of help to them, offer to get them connected by way of an introduction, and then follow up to see if they have been contacted or found the information resource where you told them to look. People get to know, like, and trust those who take a genuine interest in their needs.
Mindful Networkers look for opportunities to serve others around them and are clear on their own values, strengths, and gaps. They communicate their value clearly when asked directly what it is they do, and they demonstrate that value. Operating from a serve-first mindset moves them to top of mind when asking others to rally to their cause, because they spend time bringing value to others.
Russ Dennis helps nonprofits find more money so they can help more people by taking them through a systematic process to answer three questions: Why are we doing what we are doing, what do we ultimately want to get out of it, and what value do we provide to the people we serve? He also serves as a catalyst for high-performance entrepreneurs and other companies that want to extend their influence and increase revenues. Along the way, he provides new ideas and insights to get the results they want in less time using resources they already have. RD Dennis Enterprises, LLC, Twitter @RmanRussDen
This article is reprinted from Issue #9 of Nonprofit Performance Magazine. Subscribe today so that you won’t miss other actionable articles that will help you run your nonprofit organization with less pain and more gain!
Join Hugh Ballou and Russell Dennis and their guests on our weekly Tuesday afternoon Nonprofit Exchange at 2 pm Eastern time.
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As the famous British Composer and Conductor Ralph Vaughan Williams once said, “Music does not reveal all of its secrets to just one person.” If you replace the word “Music” with the word “Leadership” or “Team” or “Strategy” etc., then we all give and receive value from others. That’s the spirit of the Tuesday afternoon Nonprofit Exchange encounters, sponsored by SynerVision Leadership Foundation’s “Community for Community Builders.”
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