An Untapped Gold Mine: Business Networking for Event Fundraising Success
The answer is … Get out of the office! Leave the safety of your cubicle, and join the vibrant world of business networking. This remains a largely untapped gold mine for development and special-event professionals from nonprofit organizations. Business networking provides an open-ended opportunity to cultivate your own connections to facilitate success with your events.
There are so many organizations where your profile as a representative of a nonprofit organization will be welcomed — dedicated lead-generating groups, women’s organizations, rotaries, chambers, industry panels, trade groups, etc. To get started, check your local papers or ask some of your board or committee members where you might start.
Find a group or groups you like, and dig in. Get to know the members. Join a committee. Make a presentation at a program. These are golden opportunities to build prospect lists, recruit committee members and connect with potential sponsors. The people you meet may or may not be at the level of major donors. They are likely, however, to know and/or do business with potential honorees, larger sponsors and more midsized businesses that might benefit from event sponsorships. Once you develop the connections and ask for specific introductions, you’ll be surprised at the willingness of your new associates to open doors for you.
In networking it is always best to start by giving referrals and by making introductions. Soon, you will get referrals from those you helped first. Remember, your own board and committee members are already in your network. They may make excellent connections for your new acquaintances if you approach introductions as having potential mutual value. When you develop a reputation of providing reciprocal value to those you meet, word will spread and you will be known as a valued networker. Everyone you meet is a potential event attendee. Some of those people can open doors to contacts or contribute directly to help you meet your goals.