Whether it’s mental health services, environmental efforts or supporting foster children and families, the core foundation of any nonprofit’s mission stems from the desire to improve one’s community and overall well-being. Even with an ongoing hunger to impact their surroundings, why do so many nonprofit leaders fail to take advantage of the most valuable resource they have at their fingertips—each other?
Follow these 4 steps to effectively develop and utilize a strategic network for your nonprofit:
- View your competitor as an asset, rather than an obstacle—Being able to recognize what your competitors are doing well, or better than you, can become an opportunity for your organization. If you develop relationships with your competitors, as well as other strategic networkers from various fields, you can harness their input and diverse skill-sets to improve upon your nonprofit’s current strategies.
- Add to your annual budget and job descriptions—Nonprofit leaders often find it difficult to make strategic networking a major priority for themselves. However, devoting specific job responsibilities and budgets toward strategic networking efforts will help up-and-coming leaders view networking as an essential job task rather than a mere suggestion.
- Define and measure “strategic networking” objectives—Discussing what strategic networking means for your organization will get everyone on the same page as far as team goals and measurable objectives. In addition, it’s equally as important to discuss the networking progress and accomplishments so you can continue to fine tune what networking events your employees should attend.
- Go for quality over quantity—Although accumulating stacks of business cards may seem impressive at a glance, it’s best to select a handful of key contacts from various backgrounds to truly focus on. Putting the time and energy into developing a rapport with these individuals, whilst contacting them on a consistent basis, will incentivize them to share their ideas and other influential contacts with you.
Building a strong strategic network with your peers, regardless of one’s job title or sector focus, will equip you with the knowledge you need to move beyond the status quo. Taking the time to invest in such a unique support system will allow you to achieve long-term goals in an efficient and more innovative manner.