If you don’t know what’s going on in that community, embrace it, get involved, look at other groups, how you can collaborate with other like-minded organisations.
Hello and welcome to the Dial2Donate podcast with me Matthew Britton and today we’ll be speaking to Naomi Timperley.
Today we’re going to be speaking about networking for good, so Naomi can you tell us a little bit about that?
“I’ve had several different business and something that’s really been key for all of them is how you can make really good connections with other people in your communities, in the business community – I’ve titled it ‘networking for good’ because obviously most people assume it’s all about business deals and things like that but I think in the charity sector the way you network is really key when it comes to fundraising.”
So with the networking side of things, how do you think charities are not maximising their networking?
Well there are just a couple of key things that I wanted to cover today: First thing we’ve got is talking about social media and about being useful to other people because it’s not all about going in for the hard sell, about how you build relationships up with people. And also about having a clear vision about exactly what you want from people. So if we talk about the way I think charities should network, look at events in your community, look at business events, the person – you’ve obviously got people who are extroverts and introverts and an introvert would network in a different way for example – so perhaps if it were public networking, having people within the organisation that are quite comfortable talking to people. So using your listening skills, which I think really come to the front because when you meet people for the first time people love talking about themselves, and if you can find out as much information about that person as possible, that’s going to be useful to you. Then you can work out whether they will have networks that will be useful to you. And then sort of drop in about what you do, what your organisation does and the great work that you do, and then when you think someone is worth following up, you know making sure – I’m not saying you should shove a business card in their face but maybe you could follow up the conversation on Twitter for example or LinkedIn. Go and see them if you think it’s worth pursuing, go and have a chat with them, again you know finding out more about them and shout out about what you do as well.”
Okay. So have you got any tips about how people could go about that? You mentioned Twitter and LinkedIn.
“Social media is fantastic, especially if you’re a sort of introvert networker. I use Twitter a lot, I do use LinkedIn as well which has been fantastic but with Twitter you can dive into conversations, it’s not like being in the pub where if you come up and join someone’s conversation they might give you an odd look. On Twitter that’s what it’s all about. It’s called social media for a reason – so Twitter’s a great way to do the groundwork beforehand, before you go to networking events or a conference or something like that. We have got another podcast about social networking so I would advise people to have a listen to that. But one of the certain things I think as well is – and you can’t see me but I’m trying to draw this to explain – if you think about a spider in a web and you as being the spider, and then the web goes off in different directions. So one of the directions would be your social media, so that would be all the connections you have on social media, and again rather than being very corporate, you can have a corporate social media account, but then you can also have, say for example, the chief executive of a charity and the people within that charity, so the charity then becomes a personality rather than just sort of a blanket: “okay, this is what we do, this is what we want, retweet this, retweet that blah blah blah blah.” If you start engaging, your networking will become a lot easier. Then we’ve got the spiders going on a different tangent – you’re then talking about physical networking spaces, where you’re going to meet people. Then going off on another angle, you’ve got the community where your charity is based. Do you really know what’s going on in that community? If you don’t know what’s going on in that community, embrace it, get involved, look at other groups, how you can collaborate with other like-minded organisations. Going off on another route the spider then looks at the business community, which is a different kettle of fish. What sort of organisations align to the values of your charity, and how can you engage with those businesses. And then look at education, so schools, colleges, nurseries, universities within your community, start talking to them cause you never know who somebody else knows. And then you’ve also got things like existing networks. When I say existing networks this comes right down to personal accounts – do your friends know what you do? Do your family know what you do? Do their friends and family? And it quickly becomes this vast network quite quickly.”
And they’re sort of close bonds.
“Exactly. So there are loads of ways the spiders can sort of swill around. If youre thinking about networking as well, I think it’s personally it works for me because ive become very useful for people, so it’s about how you can connect the dots. So you might meet someone in your business community that might be useful to someone in the social media community. So become really useful, make introductions to other people, but don’t make introudctions just for the hell of it, make sure that youre making introductions where it’s actually going to fit in – how can those people help one another. I’ll say a big thing as well – don’t always just talk about work. You know, you’re going in and finding out and using your listening skills so it might be that some people are bad at remembering names but you might remember what somebody’s dog is called, or how many kids they’ve got or that kind of thing. That information that you retain can be useful when you go and see that person another time, so you can say “How are the kids? Blah blah blah..” Another thing I’ve got on here is be yourself. I cant stress that enough. Don’t try to be somebody else – it doesn’t work. You’ve got to be really honest, people can see through fake people. And also think about what you want to ask people – don’t be scared because you don’t ask you don’t get. And I think, certainly with networking.
It’s a real skill you need to hone, and just think who would be the best person to do that within the organisation, it might be that someone’s better doing it on social media, it might be that somebody’s better off doing the networking with an educational thing. Make sure that the people within your organisation are as passionate as you are and that they are quite happy to use opportunities. It might be that theyre at a dinner party, it might be that theyre at a queue in sainsburys – but they can use that as a netowkring opportunity. I’ve met people on the train, in buses, on nights out, on holiday, so don’t think that it’s like – I mean networking becomes a part of your life if youre passionate about your business or your charity – it comes naturally.”
And I think from my own personal experience, the best way to think of it is like building friendships.
So the worst thing would be for you to only approach someone when you need something, like “could you do this for me?”, whereas if you are naturally friends with somebody, they’re more likely to do something for you anyway.
“It is 100% about building relationships up. Most people that I know hate going to networking events to have someone try to sell them something within the first two minutes. People do business with people they know, like and trust.”
Yeah, and it’s the same with charities.
So of these different aspects of the spider web, which would you say is most important at the moment?
I would say the most important thing is to be yourself. Be yourself firstly, I would then look at the social media thing – it’s so powerful. Social media has made the world such a smaller place. And be useful – be useful to other people, pay it forward. I’ve got relationships with people that ive known for 7-8 years, and you know it might be that you don’t get something straight away.”
Yeah that’s another thing, you’ve got to remember that any networking is a two-way thing. It’s about how you can use both of your skills.
“Absolutely. It’s about how you follow it up as well. I recently did a workshop at UCLAN and I was talking to film students and I asked them about the sort of events they go too, because Eventbrite and Meetup is a great way to find out about events in your area. One of the girls was talking about a film director she’d met last year at a conference and she was talking to him and I asked if she followed it up and she said no. It’s just little things like that – if you think someone might be useful at some point, even If it’s just like it was great to meet you, that kind of thing, follow it up.”
You mentioned about Eventbrite?
“Eventbrite is fantastic.”
I was going to ask you about which tools you would recommend.
“I would say Eventbrite’s really good, if you just pop in your location and look on the left hand side of the screen you can filter it down, so it might be business, it might be IT/Digital. Loads of the events are free on there, obviously some of them you have to pay for but you find out so many things that you didn’t know were around. And then obviously you’ve got different areas as well. Also there’s a really good website called Meetup, again you can put in there different types of events, organise your own meetup, or you can join in other meetups and find out with genres would be appropriate to your charity.”
I’ve never heard of Meetup. And is that mainly charities?
“Do you know what, it’s all different kinds of things. They’ve got stuff like Code Clubs on there, they might have people that like cats and dogs, they might have business ones. And of course you can set up your own meetup.
Okay so what do you thin the benefits of networking are as opposed to not networking? It might sound like a simple question but there are a lot of people who don’t network because they can’t see the advantages to it.
“Right a massive, massive advantage – you are again if you just think about social, and even the spider’s web I’m talking about. If you look at the spider’s web, you can reach thousands of people and the social media is just going up at a complete different level. One thing I would say as well is that if you are at a networking event or you’re going to one, tell people on social media that you’re going and join the conversation. If there’s a conference going on that you can’t afford a ticket to, you can still network virtually at that conference by using the hashtag linked to the event.”
And is there anything else you’d like to add?
“Don’t be scared – embrace it. Like I said, we’re saying the word networking but like you said, it has to become sort of part of your life, it’s about building relationships up with people, it’s as simple as that.
And building friendships.
“Yep. If anyone’s got any questions about networking, we’ve got obviously the Dial2Donate, Network for Good, and I’m on Twitter @NaomiTimperley and @4hubUK and I’m always available for a chat on there.