Networking Opportunities for Nonprofits
Networking is a very valuable endeavor for nonprofits to actively be involved in. Participating in an assortment of network opportunities boosts visibility, introduces partnership possibilities and is a great way to engage in community outreach. There are many potential avenues you can explore to find networking opportunities for your nonprofit organization.
Join the Chamber of Commerce
One of the first things to do is to find other organizations to link up with to begin to build your network. For instance, look to join local groups, such as your area's Chamber of Commerce. The organization puts together valuable and terrific networking events sponsored by the Chamber, and this is a valuable way for nonprofits to connect with other businesses and agencies in the community. As a direct result of these events, a nonprofit can connect with other agencies and businesses to create joint ventures and projects.
It's also a good idea to try and partner with other organizations to come up with ideas and events which would be mutually beneficial. Sponsoring events with each another is a great way to share expenses and boost visibility for an organization. These strategic alliances are not only valuable in terms of generating community and organizational support, they are often very cost-effective too, which is vital when you're working on limited budgets as most nonprofits do not have the luxury of robust funding. It's a win-win-win. The the nonprofit organization branches out and discovers new ways to meet community needs, businesses can get more exposure, and endeavors can be developed which are beneficial to the community.
Another good outlet for networking is to consult with the local community's calendar and get involved with the scheduled events. Many communities have annual, monthly or one time only events where nonprofit agents can arrange to have a table at and it is a great way to mingle. Community festivals, parades, professional fairs (i.e. health and career fairs) are wonderful ways to meet and greet people. As a bonus, it is another avenue to get more directly involved with the community.
Being involved in community outreach is essential to a nonprofit's existence. If you are part of an agency, you want to get to know members in your area and market to get people to recognize who you are and what your organization does. When getting involved in community efforts, there are typically inexpensive ways to host events, and other partnering agencies are often willing to absorb some of the costs. Hosting events that are open to the public further develops other networking opportunities as well.
Email and Social Media
Social media offers a unique opportunity for nonprofits to get noticed in a way that isn't too cost-heavy. A number of organizations have achieved excellent success using the social web. While high visibility can be established on social media, you want to make sure to choose the right kind of attention. There are some general guidelines to follow when establishing a presence and creating social content. Like any other business, it is important to create interesting content, start good conversations and be engaging in posts.
Keep in mind, email still "rules" and should not be neglected as a way to connect. 1
Networking and partnering with other organizations are a fantastic way to increase visibility and augment revenues for a nonprofit. Communication and social marketing should be at the crux of a nonprofit's strategic plan, and networking is a valuable way to get the word out on your organization.