Networking in a Digital World

9706772_l-300x212.jpgWe’ve all heard the common phrase: it’s not what you know, but who you know. And the fact of the matter is, skills, degrees and lengthy resumes will only get you so far, even in the nonprofit realm. It’s time to face the screen, the computer screen that is, and get on board with networking on-line, where it’s easy to connect, join and subscribe to a variety of groups, circles and people. And actually pretty important to do in today’s work world. In the nonprofit arena, it’s easy to get taken in by mission-driven work and passion-filled days, however, it’s important to remember to branch out of your industry or organization and to connect to others who are just as committed to nonprofit work as you. Below are tips and helpful websites, groups and circles to join to jumpstart your digital networking. It’s always great to meet face-to-face, but why not start with an online introduction?

LinkedIn

This is one of the most recognizable and easy to use on-line networking sites there is. Sign up, make your profile and start connecting away. Besides offering the top headlines in the news, LinkedIn has gotten savvy with their variety of groups and company pages that people can watch and connect to. These are great online worlds where you can meet others who share your interests, passions and likes. LinkedIn has made it easy to search and find not just specific people who you may want to learn more about, but also local groups that, often times, have in-person networking events. For the nonprofit employee, a few groups worth checking out are:

Remember, when joining a group or company page on LinkedIn, don’t just let it sit ther eon your profile: actually visit the page, comment and like discussions, write your own and research other members. This will make it easier to connect to someone because you will both and talking entrance points with each other.

Facebook and Twitter

Yes, Facebook and Twitter can be used to professionally network. These two powerhouse websites are easy to navigate and have become hubs for companies, organizations and people to connect and follow each other. Use each site to find out what industries are up to, who they are targeting and how you can get more involved with them. Once one door on either site is opened, multiple others will follow suit. It’s a bit of a domino effect with Facebook and Twitter because once you like or follow one company or one person, the site will suggest similar ones to you, making it easy to grow your networking ring.

10times.com

Do you ever wonder when the next conference or trade show is in your city? Do you want to know when professional events are being held? 10times is a the perfect site to search for pretty much any city and industry to find out when you can meet your next employer or business partner. Use the site as the first step to networking and connecting to people: find the appropriate conference or trade show, link up with others going, and plan to meet them at the event. It’s a simple website and tool to use to stay, or get connected, to your city’s business happenings.

Meetup.com

Again, this site is all about finding local groups that interest you, learning more about them and then taking the next step to connect with folks offline. Start by searching for groups that offer activities that you would want to participate in. Then, take the next step and contact the group or event organizer. This is an easy and non-threatening way to say, hey, I’m interested in what you’re doing, how can I get involved with your group or event. Make sure you solidify the relationship though by actually going to the scheduled event and following up with the organizer in-person or online. The internet has made networking extremely easy, as long as you know the right websites to visit and how best to navigate the wealth of groups and circles that are out there. Investigate people before you reach out to them online, know some of their background and make sure to keep emails or invites short and simple. Think outside of the box when networking online and don’t just stick to your usual networking tactics. Once you find your groove of connecting to people and organizations via the digital world, take the conversation offline and make it more established. It will only lead to more connections and relationships.

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