In this word today, from individuals to organizations, networking is everything. In fact, there has been a saying that sometimes it’s not what you know, but who you know. Studies have shown how essential networking is in both individuals and organizations. For example, Chinese students studying in the United States have often excelled academically, usually graduating above their Western or Indian counterparts. However, when it comes to landing a job, Indians have gotten more opportunities (Zou, 2018). Also according to Zou, this is for the reason that many Asians such as Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans have less ability to network while the Indians have been taught to network at a young age. Thus, this goes back to the saying that sometimes, it’s more of who you know that can help you.
Especially for NGOs, getting connected to the right people and organizations is fundamentally important. The right connections will ultimately lead to connections with other NGOs, NGO funding agencies, philanthropists, NGO project consultants, corporations, and eventually a great number of donors. To successfully achieve your goals through networking, your NGO must practice the following:
1. Step out of your comfort zone
Although putting yourself out there can seem like a big leap, it is necessary for every NGO. A strategic step could be hiring someone who is skilled and experienced in this field. Quite a few NGOs have network managers who are able to gain contacts and connections which has helped the NGO in many fields.
2. Make the most out of events
Numerous events occur yearly that request for nonprofit participation. For this to be optimized, NGOs must be present. At times, participation in such events can be costly, and thus seeking for access passes would be necessary.
3. Stay organized
As much as possible, your goal will be to get as much quality contacts you can on a regular basis. With that, it will be very difficult to manage without a tracker. Details such as the organization, contact person, the event in which you met, etc. are essential. It’s not going to be strategic to forget many of the connections you make. In fact, the average human brain can only recall three to four things at the same time (Marriott, 2015). Thus, setting up a tracker, although it can be an additional task, will aid you significantly.
4. Update your contacts
As much as possible, you would want your partners to know that you’re active. Without communication, they can possibly forget about your existence. Keep them updated through your social media pages, email, and if possible through a newsletter as well.
It’s especially important for partners to know and feel appreciated. The more you do for them, the more they’ll be willing to do for you as well. The art of reciprocity doesn’t always need to be doing exactly as they do for you. For example, philanthropists giving away money doesn’t necessarily expect you to be giving them money as well. Other ways to reciprocate them would be to recognize their donations, thanking them personally, and even updating them on the progress you have made with the beneficiaries they aimed to help. Likewise, regularly check their websites and social media accounts to be updated with their latest happenings. That way, it will be easier for you to show them interest.
6. Act professional
It’s human nature not to necessarily like everyone and their ways, thus, it should be remembered that having partners is part of the business. Any personal disinterest or misunderstandings with partners should be put aside while continually making the most of the partnership. Always remember that a partnership will ultimately lead to more organizations to partner with, and thus putting your personal interests will not be good for your NGO.
Given the importance of networking and the simple steps and instructions available, there is absolutely no reason for NGOs not to optimize what will inevitably bring about many good opportunities. NGOs cannot simply expect foreign funding agencies for NGOs, international funders for NGOs, corporate funding, and funds for NGOs to just knock on their doors. Before beneficiaries are chosen and aided, NGOs must go through a process and successfully network.