3 Tips for Networking Success at Your Next Fundraising Conference
There are a ton of nonprofit conferences coming up next year. Are you going to any of them?
If so, you can’t afford to miss out on all of the fantastic networking opportunities that these events offer. Whether you’re looking to more effectively measure your fundraising metrics or boost your donor acquisition, nonprofit fundraising conferences can give you a wealth of information and are perfect for meeting other nonprofit professionals.
Have a look at these three networking tips and take them along to your next fundraising conference.
1. Research beforehand
After you’ve registered for the conference, don’t just assume that networking opportunities are going to fall in your lap the minute you show up. A major component of effective networking at a fundraising conference is doing a lot of research before you even walk through the venue doors.
Conference hosts publish and update information about the different sessions and speakers that will be present at the conference. Based on the resources and advice that you and your team need, plan around these sessions and speakers.
If you need more help with your fundraising events, attend a workshop or session designed for boosting event attendance. You’ll be able to connect with other nonprofit professionals and meet the thought leaders who can help you fundraise more effectively.
Additionally, many conferences will post a list of confirmed attendees at some point. Depending on the size of the conference you’re attending, this list could be thousands of names long, but sifting through it to determine who will be at the conference is well worth your while.
When you know who is going to be at the conference, you can more efficiently direct your networking strategies. It would be a waste of time to try to talk to every single person that attends the conference. Instead, narrow your focus and hone in on the individuals you need and want to speak to.
2. Be engaged
No two conference goers are the same, and everyone networks in their own way. But the common thread among all conference attendees who network effectively is their engagement.
Being engaged at a conference can take a variety of forms. It can include:
- Showing up early to sessions. This shows that you are interested in the topic at hand and want to learn more. It also helps you meet more people as they filter into the room before the speaker begins.
- Attending optional events. At the end of the day, you might not want to go to the optional fun event at a local restaurant or in the hotel lobby. But part of being engaged and effectively networking at a conference is going to these optional events. You’ll meet new people and expand your professional network.
- Knowing when to take a break. You can’t be engaged and alert if you are nodding off during sessions and forgetting your organization’s name while talking to a vendor. Know when to take a walk, a nap, or a breather and then get back to networking!
When you’re engaged at a conference, you are better able to network with your fellow fundraising colleagues and learn more from them.
3. Follow up
Just because the conference is over and everyone has gone home to their respective cities and organizations doesn’t mean that the networking should end.
Stay connected with the people you met at the conference and trade fundraising strategies every now and then. If someone had some great tips for volunteers, give them a call to get more information.
When you follow up with conference attendees and speakers, you increase your chances of fundraising success. Two heads are better than one, and multiple fundraising heads are even better.
Before you hit the road for your next fundraising conference, make sure that you are properly prepared to effectively network. Your organization and your donors will thank you!
Guest Blogger: Jack Karako – President, IMPACTism
Jack Karako has 30 years’ experience within the charitable and philanthropic industry that he brings to the forefront with IMPACTism. Jack has been a major gifts fundraiser and senior organizational executive working with or consulting to nonprofit and advocacy organizations.
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