This book is primarily about networking. I don’t know about you, but networking brings several images to mind, and not all of them are positive! I imagine the guy handing out business cards as fast as he can, hoping to get a paycheck out of the deal. Or the woman working the room, making sure that everyone knows that she is there, and in a not so discrete way, letting you know she is expecting you to support her latest project.
Ferrazzi does a great job in challenging these concepts. For him, networking is about building relationships with people BEFORE they can help you, and in reality, even though they may not ever be able to help you.
I have watched a similar thing happen in the non-profit sector. Unfortunately, I am referring more to the first example than the latter. Many non-profit seek to build relationships with those who can help them. The board meets, and comes up with a list of people that can move the organization or project ahead politically, socially, or financially.
A non-profit is, by definition, created for public good. Networking should be done in a way that invests in people, not looks for investments from people. These organizations will benefit in significant ways, simply by being seen a generous (with attention) and caring. The way that people feel about a no-profit is vital to it’s ability to survive. If you only get an invitation from a friend when they need money, you are actually being treated like something other than a friend. Organizations that feel compelled to throw hugely expensive events to attract “substantial givers” and large sums of money are often prostituting themselves and their cause. A $1000 a head dinner to build a homeless shelter? Obviously, that would beÂ crazy, but many groups don’t see the disconnect they are creating. After subtracting all the costs associated with such an event, a much more community focused (and priced) event would have been the better move.
A new position needs to be added to those boards, and it is the Community Partnership position. The purpose will be to develop a long term approach to being in the community, meeting people where they are, and even assisting other non-profits in any way you can. The goal is to make this world a better place for everyone, not just to have your non-profit get the big donation.