How do you network?

networkingA few days ago, I was Skyping with Henry Freeman, the owner of H.Freeman Associates LLC. It was a getting-to-know-you session because a mutual friend had suggested that we needed to meet and explore possible ways for our two consulting practices to work more closely together from time-to-time. During our conversation, Henry asked me a question that I haven’t been able to get out of my head. That question was:

How do you network?

As one does in a fluid conversation, I had to think on my feet and these were the examples that came out of my mouth:

  • Coffee meetings
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner meetings
  • After-work cocktails
  • Virtual networking (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterst, Google+, LinkedIn, and the DonorDreams blog)
  • Group membership (e.g. Fox West Philanthropy Network)
  • Conferences

I’m not sure if I’m any good at networking, but I do it primarily because I like people. I love meeting new people. If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you know that I regularly say things like “We don’t have to re-create the wheel” and “We can all learn from each other.” Both of these expressions are most likely drivers behind what gets me out of my home office and meeting with all sorts of people.
During a little windshield time yesterday, Henry’s question was still rattling around my brain when it dawned on me that “networking” is obviously a critical skill for most non-profit CEOs and fundraising professionals. If you’re good at networking, then you are probably a natural when it comes to:

  • cultivating new prospective donors
  • stewarding existing donors
  • developing collaborations with other organizations, groups and corporations
  • soliciting donors and selling sponsorships
  • recruiting volunteers
  • identifying and recruiting new prospective board members
  • engaging existing board members

The more I think about it, networking skills sound more and more “foundational” as it generally related to SUCCESS.
As this idea continued rolling around in my thoughts, I couldn’t help but wonder what skills and traits are associated with people who are good networkers. Here is an incomplete list of things I managed to come up with:

  • Sincere and genuine
  • Conversational
  • Interested
  • Engaging
  • Good listener
  • Empathetic
  • Living in the moment
  • Intuitive

I’m not sure how accurate this list is, but they were all things that crossed my mind.
The final thought that crossed my mind on this topic was “How can someone get better at networking?” Not surprisingly, this question drove me to my favorite resource in the world — Google.   😉
After clicking around a little bit, I came across a link to Huffington Post simply titled “Networking Tips.” When I clicked it, there were two pages of HuffPo articles on a variety of networking subjects like “10 Simple Rules” and “8 Ways to Amp Up Your Personality.” It looked like a treasure trove of great reading.
Wanna see those links? Simply click here and enjoy!
Do you think that you’re good at networking? Why? What do you do to network? Which of your many skills and traits lend favorably to your ability to network?
If you end up like me and get thinking about this question, please scroll down to the comment box and share your thoughts and experiences. We can all learn from each other.
Here’s to your health!
Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
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How Nonprofits Can Maximize LinkedIn to Grow Their Community

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always thought that LinkedIn was the grownup Facebook. When it first started, I didn’t think much of it, but over the years, LinkedIn has become a powerful networking tool, not only for job-searchers, but for everyone in a professional community. Today let’s take a look at a few things that you can do to maximize your and your organization’s presence on LinkedIn.

Complete Your Profile
When starting out on LinkedIn, completing your organization’s profile is important. This is because the heart of LinkedIn is connecting people. The more information it has about you, the better it can serve as a networking resource for you and

Image representing LinkedIn as depicted in Cru...

your organization. Take some time to think about 10 to 15 keywords that you think would best describe your agency and their mission. Using the right keywords will attract the right people to your page.

Not only is an organization profile important, but it is important that everyone connected to your organization has complete profile as well. Make sure employees, volunteers and board members take the time to fill their profiles completely. There is a “Volunteer and Causes” section that can be added to personal profiles where supporters can list your organization.

Companies as Donors
If you are looking to find a company to sponsor an event or make a donation, LinkedIn would be a great place to start. Many companies will list in their profiles if they give to charitable causes or not. If you cannot find info on their profile, see who is connected to that company and reach out to people in your network.

My LinkedIn network, visualized

Follow People
I am not an advocate for stalking, except for in the case of LinkedIn. The more connections you have, the better your network, so follow people you know and people you don’t know. Having a connection can help you along the way, when it comes to

gaining volunteers, finding new donors, hiring a new employee, or finding a new board member.

Group Hug
One of the most dynamic sections to LinkedIn is their groups. There are groups focused on just about everything. Join as many as you can or have your organization start one tailored to discussions about your mission. People expect to start conversations in LinkedIn and groups can be a great way to create new connections.

Keep People Up to Date
LinkedIn is just like every other social media site; as in it works best when you update it frequently. So share news and blog updates with your community there too. Also, LinkedIn does a good job of of aggregating news that is important to you. It is a great place to find new articles to share with your followers as well.

Find Your Next Board Member
LinkedIn just released a new, exciting tool for nonprofits called LinkedIn Board Connect. This allows nonprofit organizations to use LinkedIn to find people who might be a good fit to be the next member of your board. For more information on this new service, take a look at LinkedIn’s announcement. Also, they are having a webinar on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 to explain what Board Connect can do. I suggest joining in to see if this is a tool that would be beneficial to your organization.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: finding the right social network for your organization is key to your social media success. LinkedIn can be a powerful tool to find people and grow your community. How does your organization use LinkedIn? What are some of the things that work best on this social network for you? I’d love to talk about it in comments!

How to Use Social Media to Plan and Promote Special Events

This past week, Erik dedicated his posts to discussing unique special events. In this, “Mondays with Marissa” post, I thought I’d continue the subject to explore some social media tools that you can use when planning and executing your upcoming event.

Google Docs

Collaborating with co-workers and volunteers is a huge part of planning an event. Google Docs makes collaboration easier. By using Google’s free suite of products teams can collaborate on documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, and forms. An entire team of people can be working on the same document at the same time.

Facebook

You can’t deny it, Facebook is what most people think of when they hear the words “social media”. So, how can you use it to your advantage when it comes to event planning?

Invite peopleCreate a public event and invite everyone that has “liked” your page. Not only will this give people the logistics of when and where the event will be held, but this Facebook function includes a “wall” where people can post updates. This allows you to create a dialog and converse with donors. It also empowers supporters to invite other people to attend the event with them.

Share photos – In the days preceding the event, post photos of decorations, raffle prizes or any other items you think would entice people to join you at the event. Furthermore, you can also encourage attendees to take photos during the event and tag your agency in the post.

Update your status – This seems like simple advice, but Facebook is only a powerful social networking tool if you use it. Don’t forget to let people know what’s going on and consistently update the status on your page.

Twitter

Twitter is a great way to get the news out quickly. Here’s a simple tip to make twitter a tool for your event:

Create a hashtag – A hashtag is found at the end of a tweet and is a phrase with a pound sign at the front of it. Why is this important? Hashtags make searching Twitter easier. (Maybe you’ve seen Jimmy Fallon play the hashtag game?) Creating a hashtag is as simple as typing, nothing special needs to happen. Twitter will just highlight the hashtag and link all tweets that contain it. By creating a hashtag for your event, you can easily see what people are saying about it. Also, if you get enough people to tweet with your hashtag, it may become a “trending topic” and show up on the twitter homepage.

Here is a thought . . . post different mission-focused factoids around the room and ask participants to “tweet” the fact (using the hastag, of course) every time they find one. The person who ends up tweeting the most number of agency facts receives a special recognition at the end of your event program.

Foursquare

Foursquare is a “check-in” based social network where users can earn points and badges by checking-in to different places. Here are some tips on how to use Foursquare for your event.

Create your own venuecreate a venue within Foursquare for the site of the event. This will allow Foursquare users to check-in. Make sure you also claim ownership of the venue as well.

Leave a tip – Part of the fun of Foursquare is finding out what people are saying about places. You can leave tips for attendees such as “Check-out the wine tasting package in the silent auction . . . such a value!”

Create a badge – Foursquare users LOVE badges. You can create you own badge that people can earn just by checking in. The badge can even have your logo on it and be tailored to the event.

Specials – Business owners are allowed to create specials that give Foursquare users extra perks while checked in. Here are two ideas that could become another revenue stream for your event:

  1. secure a sponsor that will make a donation every time a donor “checks in”.
  2. give your supporters another entry into your raffle when they check-in on Foursquare from your event.

Whichever social media tool you choose, there a few key points to keep in mind:

Everything is public – encouraging donors to use social networking to benefit your special event increases the public knowledge of your event. This can be a great thing or a not-so-great thing. Just be prepared to monitor what people are saying and be involved in the conversation.

Learn about the event after it is over – the great thing about social media is that most of it stays out in the open for a while. Make sure you and your team look at the photos posted by attendees, read the tweets, accept new friend requests, read the foursquare tips and so on. Use all of this information when planning your next event. Post-event evaluation is a best practice, and using information secured via social media is just one more thread of data that needs to be reviewed.

Have you used social media to promote or plan your event in the past? What worked best for you? Let’s discuss in comments!