We'd all like to be able to stop time. Or at least push it back. After all then maybe we'd be able to fit all the things that we want to do into our days. Yet, that isn't a reality. We can't do that.
I know that non-profit leaders would like to put a time-out on time. There simply isn't enough time to do everything that needs to be done in any given day. So finding time to network is almost impossible; however it is necessary if non-profits want to strengthen and diversify their community.
In our communities the lines between non-profits and business are being intermingled. More non-profits are looking at social enterprises and adopting more entrepreneurial practices. More for-profit businesses are looking for ways to give back to their community without necessarily having to give a financial donation.
Watching from the sidelines, with a foot in both the non-profit and the for-profit world as a result of my work, I see this as a positive evolution for our communities.
When we focus on our similarities, rather than our difference, we have more opportunities to work together for a stronger community. However, this won’t happen until we build a bridge between the for-profit and the non-profit sectors and get to know each other: to challenge our assumptions and connect around issues that are important to all of us. To celebrate our shared passion for our community and the different perspectives that our unique work brings to the discussions.
This requires opportunities to connect, to have conversations, and to nurture relationships that go beyond “Hi. I am… and I need….”
Networking events are a great place to start. They already bring business leaders together in the community… and they welcome non-profits as well.
And once you get some connections from this, find ways to engage those you meet on a more personal level.
Hosting an event? Invite those you’ve met in the business community to come out and participate to see what it is you do.
Ask for their help on a specific project: “We are working to <<insert short project>> and could use some volunteers. Would you be able to help out?”
Need new leadership in your non-profit? Encurage them to become part of your leadership team for an event or on your board, particularly if they share a passion for your work.
It starts with carving out time in your busy schedule to get out and go to meeting with local businesses:
Start small: Attend a Chamber of Commerce meeting, there are a variety to choose from.
Build it up. Host a Meet and Greet at your office to showcase what it is you do.
Strengthen the relationship:Give back by getting involved in community initiatives where business owners are actively engaged.
How quickly you progress through the continuum is up to you. However, I promise that while it may be slightly uncomfortable at first, the more that you get to know the local business community, the more likely you are to see that we all share a passion for, and pride in, our community. That shared passion and pride are a great place to start.
Want to share your networking story? Please email us or post a comment tagging /hipstrategic on Facebook. We’d love to share how you have used networking to grow your non-profit and strengthen diverse community connections.