On any given workday you can find tens of thousands of professionals, salespeople and business owners across the country working networking events. These events, whether sponsored by a chamber of commerce, an industry association, or a networking group, attract a large number of men and women all looking for the same thing-a prospect. In fact, at a great many of these events the vast majority of attendees are not really interested in meeting and mingling with other business people, but are only interested in finding a real, live prospect and if there are no prospects, they deem their time spent at the event to have been wasted.
In time, most salespeople, professionals and business owners become convinced that networking as they've come to know it is nothing more than a huge waste of time. For most, unless they are selling a relatively inexpensive consumer or business commodity, they're right.
This doesn't mean that networking is a waste of time. Networking can, in fact, be one of the most productive and satisfying prospecting and marketing methods one can engage in. Whether you're a professional, business owner, or salesperson, there are a number of viable networking venues open to you, but non-profit charitable organizations are ignored as prospecting venues by most.
Non-profit charitable organizations offer a tremendous opportunity to acquire new business while at the same time contributing to your community. What better way to generate new business than to do so while volunteering your time, energy, and possibly money to help others?
Why are non-profits so valuable as prospecting venues?
- You can often identify a charity whose board and committees have a large number of real prospects for your goods and services.
- Instead of meeting these prospects in a sales situation where they will probably have their guard up, you meet them in a much more relaxed atmosphere where you can get to know one another as friends prior to approaching them regarding business.
- You have the opportunity to demonstrate your competence, trustworthiness, and honesty prior to engaging the prospect in a business conversation.
However, networking through a charitable organization isn't as simple as just picking one out and joining it.
If you want to network through a charitable organization you'll need to:
- Find an organization whose purpose and goals are of sincere interest to you. In order to effectively network through an organization you'll have to become an active member, participating in the success of the organization by becoming involved in a committee, attending all of the function, and working for the overall success of the organization. If you simply join hoping to show up when you think there might be a networking opportunity, you'll quickly discover that you won't succeed. Many members of these organizations are leery of those who join for no other reason than to meet business connections. They can smell you coming-and they'll reject you. If you want to be successful, you have to be a real part of the group and not a leech.
- Be patient. Building relationships takes time. Demonstrating who you are and why taking you seriously takes time. If you looking for quick, easy business, working within a charitable organization isn't for you.
- Commit yourself to the organization's goals and objectives first, business second. If you're not committed to the organization's goals and objectives, your lack of commitment will eventually come through-and you very possibly may do your business more harm than good.
If you're looking to establish some new business connections and find some great new prospects, consider investing your time and energy in a charitable organization. You'll find it far more satisfying and productive than the typical networking venues most salespeople and professionals work.
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