Guest Post: Network like a Philanthropist

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Guest Post by: Kay Coughlin, Donor Relations Mindset, LLC

Philanthropists (bless every single one of them!) have at their disposal a brilliant tool to encourage a better world to grow: money. It's a resource familiar to all of us who share the affliction of being human.

Me? I don't have much money to give away, but one resource I do have in abundance is my network of wonderful friends, colleagues and family. And I share them generously.

Partly, my desire to connect the people I know is born out of my experience. First as a fundraiser,nonprofit manager, development consultant and strategic planner, it would be fair to say that my success in business has always hinged on my ability to see connections between people, projects and resources. It is certainly a skill I have intentionally worked to hone over the years.

Much like a philanthropist, I have a list of personal values guiding my decisions to actively reach out and make connections among my network. I wish to: help amazing people meet like-minded colleagues, help fundraisers be more successful in their critical jobs, help wonderful volunteers find great charities to assist, and connect others–no matter what their interests–to like-minded people.

I am not so modest as to claim I never think of how making a connection might benefit me, too. I would have been terrible at my job all these years if that were true! But honestly, it's not often at the top of my list of reasons to look for those connections.

The secret to my networking success might just be that I have always been willing to take the crucial next step. Once I identify a potential connection, I speak up and point out the possible matches. I take a few minutes to reach out–make a phone call, send an email, forward an invitation to an event which seems of interest, or nominate someone for board service. Not all of my ideas are good ones, but often I am able to plant a new thought or forge the first step in a new friendship.

The reward I have reaped from actively seeking to make connections grow around me is enormous pleasure, just like a philanthropist. I know that joy is real because I have asked some of my philanthropist friends and have felt it myself!

If you, like me, are surrounded by good people, and are rich in time and enthusiasm for others, I invite you to try using your network as a resource you can invest. What connections can you create right now, just by sending a quick email?