Don’t Skip the Next Networking Event: The Importance of Networking with other Nonprofit Professionals
Networking has always been lauded as an important business strategy, right? “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” But is that true for nonprofit professionals, too? And if so- isn’t being on LinkedIn enough?
No. Not even close.
Networking is crucial to your success in the nonprofit sector and can provide a number of opportunities for growth and collaboration for both you and your nonprofit organization. So the next time you think about skipping a local “meet and greet” or happy hour, consider these benefits that face-to-face networking can provide:
Finding a Mentor
If you do not already have a nonprofit professional mentoring you, work on getting one right now. It doesn’t matter if you are an intern or a CEO, having a mentor in your field will provide enormous benefit to you and your career.
Of course, finding a mentor is not as easy as running out and jumping on the first nonprofit executive you see- but through time and networking, you will find a someone who is able and willing to share their expertise and wisdom with you. Look for someone that is in a position that you would like to be in in the next 5-10 years, and let the relationship grow organically before asking them to step into a mentor position.
Future Job Opportunities
We know you love your current nonprofit job. But there is a good chance that you won’t be there forever. According to Nonprofit HR, the nonprofit sector as a whole had a 19% turnover rate in 2016.*
When it is time to take that next step in your career, it will be important to have those professional connections. Nonprofit communities tend to be close knit, so having an “in” with other nonprofit professionals- especially those that do the hiring- will provide you with better opportunities to advance your career.
Especially in local nonprofit communities, collaboration is an extremely important and often overlooked resource. Collaborating with different organizations, foundations, and associations in the area can be mutually beneficial to both the organizations and your constituents. Use your network to increase awareness for your organization, combine resources to provide a service or event to your community, or share knowledge to help boister complementary programming. Collaboration takes creativity and a strong network, but is a highly valuable tool that can bring about great things for you and your nonprofit.
Potential Donors/Board Members
You never know who is going to be your next donor, volunteer, or board member. Continuously building a network will help you reach more people in your community, which in time will help open the doors to people who want to serve your organization in some capacity.
Understand Your Local “Climate”
Nonprofit professionals are expected to have some amount of understanding of the sector in which they work- especially at a local level. Following news and current events is not enough- it is important to have other nonprofit connections in your area so that you are also aware of the less formal, but nonetheless important, news and happenings in your field.
Networking and building relationships with other members of the sector will help you gain knowledge about your local community, which will in turn allow you and your nonprofit to become more engaged- and ingrained- in your community.
There are many different ways to find networking opportunities in your area. Look for a local nonprofit association near you- many of these host networking events every couple months. Ask other nonprofit professionals if they go to any networking events in the area. Or call your local Chamber of Commerce- they have tons of resources about small businesses and nonprofits in your community. Still not finding anything? Start a networking group yourself!!
*For the full study, see Nonprofit HR’s Nonprofit Employment Practices Survey Results here.
What are we missing? Comment below with other benefits of networking with nonprofit professionals. Have a good idea for a networking event? Share with us! We also love comments, questions, and concerns so we can continue to make our blog better for you.