An Untapped Gold Mine: Business Networking for Event Fundraising Success
Good networking takes several years to hit its stride. To be successful in this social, but “what’s in it for me,” world of monthly or weekly obligations, breakfast meetings, evening programs, and scattered one-to-one luncheons, it’s important to participate regularly and not expect immediate results. Try not to fall into the trap of saying you have no time for this … If you don’t make time, you’ll never grow your footprint of connections and influence (except, perhaps, with the person in the cubicle next to you).
A few tips to enhance the value of your networking investment:
- If you attend with a colleague, split up when you arrive. Do not work the room together or sit together during the program. Remember, you already know each other. You are there to make new connections.
- Don’t let your agency hold you back if it doesn’t cover costs for dues or meeting fees. Consider these relatively modest fees an investment in your future. When you weigh the relationships you will build to make you a more seasoned professional with a strong sphere of influence in the community, the cost is nominal.
- Develop a strong elevator pitch that goes beyond the mission of your organization. Promote your events and opportunities for involvement. Tell compelling stories of the work of your organization. You might be surprised in turn when someone in the crowd seeks you out to share stories of how he or she has been touched by the work you do. Invite participants to join your committees, contribute auction items, attend events, provide pro bono services, and introduce you to potential journal advertisers and sponsors. Remember, in return, you offer an opportunity for your new colleagues to make significant contributions that showcase their own skills while meeting like-minded professionals to extend their networks.
It’s time that event fundraisers expand their thinking from serving as in-house resources to building connections in the business community. Go out there and “tap the gold mine.” As with most endeavors worth pursuing, it’s hard work and it takes time. The rewards, however, are unlimited.