When I first started hearing all the talk about “Networking” a few years ago I felt like rolling my eyes. The way it was being presented resembled speed dating – all information and no warmth or depth. You get my card, I get your card, and I ask you to help me. That kind of relationship can be handled with tech, so why waste someone’s precious time face to face if it’s just an information exchange?
Well thank goodness for the training at PSEI Fridays. Almost from the beginning we had presentations focused on values, sincerity in marketing, and effective communication. Presenters emphasized deeper more meaningful networking. For me networking became more about community building, reaching out to others to learn their needs, and helping them reach their goals while being open to receiving their help.
Volunteers, donors, participant recruitment, and hiring the right staff are heavily influenced by the ability of nonprofit programs to network effectively. Someone said to me recently that their superior networking abilities were not worth anything in the job market today. I was shocked! But then sympathetic. A year ago I wouldn’t have seen value in networking, but now see that it is the backbone of many effective nonprofit efforts.
Networking was also something I believed only extroverts are effective at. During my service year, I’ve had the opportunity to observe the introverts I work with and find that they are very adept at building effective relationships within their agency. This was a very empowering experience and helped me to realize that professional relationship skills are teachable. I was able to go beyond my comfort zone and begin networking with people who were involved with projects and industries I’m interested in.
As my career develops I’m confident that what I’ve learned about networking will continue to enhance my employability. Since I’m drawn to a service oriented life, I feel networking will fit well with whatever I choose to do.
Communications Coordinator and Program Assistant