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Friday, 13 April 2012

The True Value of Networking




By David Reeves - The Children's Air Ambulance

So here’s the opening statement – working for a charity opens up the true value behind networking.

Surely it’s the same for anyone networking? Maybe, but hear me out.

You see so many blogs, articles, tweets, and books about networking. Most of it focuses on changing people’s opinions on networking, especially those that think it’s a quick win. It’s not. It never is. And if it seems like a quick win, the chances are it will peeter out to nothing.
I’ve been to many networking meets, including BforB, 4N,Chamber of Commerce, BGS, Business Plus, and Business with Pleasure which is soon to be added to the list. I’ve met countless numbers of people and never have I had an instant result.

I recently read an article passed to me by a friend (check her blog out) about how people should be connectors, not networkers. My interpretation of this fits perfectly with how I believe charities should “network”.

The great thing about any charity is the extensive and varied network of warm contacts. These are people that are naturally philanthropic and understand the values of helping, supporting and encouraging. This leaves us charity workers with a distinct advantage – we are connectors.

What better way to gain the support of a “cold” company than to appeal to their entrepreneurial mind. Companies are always looking to network and find business through referrals, so let’s start sharing our networks.

When I meet with a company representative, I will always ask what they are looking for. Usually they misunderstand the question and answer “well I’m looking to support a local charity”. Great. I know that. I want to know what your business needs to function at a higher level, I want to know who you want to talk to and how I can help you do more in return for the generosity they have offered.

The penny drops and they open up.

“Well, we need a photographer for a PR exercise” great – Terry Mc.

“I want a lead into schools to promote our service” Even better – Support our world record attempt.

“we want a team building event with a fundraising element” – Jackpot –Espionage

“I’m looking for a marketing agency to help with our latest product” – WhaleMarketing

My point? Always scratch beneath the surface. People have expectations and stereotypes of charities, not realising that we have a wealth of knowledge, contacts and experience beyond shaking buckets and packing bags.

Networking is about building relationships, sharing contacts and linking business. It’s not about “me me me”. Take on this attitude and the direct result for any organisation is income.

Don’t believe me? Get in touch and I will show you how working with me and The Children’s Air Ambulance can help you. Call us on 0845 413 0999 or email me on david.reeves@thechildrensairambulance.org.uk

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