At the end of 2013, I noticed a lot of coaches, counselors and others tell their online audiences to choose a word or phrase that would be their mantra for 2014. An executive coach encouraged me and my colleagues at the nonprofit I work for to do the same.
I gave it some thought. During the past 17 years I’ve served as the development director for two local nonprofits. I’ve reported to the executive directors and both of these women are excellent networkers. I’m naturally introverted, so over time I let my networking slide to the bottom of my to-do list, thinking the EDs had the agencies’ networking needs well in hand. What I’d lost site of was my need to network on behalf of my organization AND ALSO for myself. As a result, professional organizations of which I am a member experienced membership turnover and I found myself feeling like a stranger in those meetings. I was very out of touch.
So my phrase for 2014 was “Get Out There.” Whenever I had a chance to attend a professional luncheon and I really wanted to skip it, I reminded myself of my 2014 phrase. And baby, I got out there.
As I review 2014, I’m so glad I put networking on the top of the list. I’m humbled by and grateful for some opportunities that came my way as a result of being at the right place at the right time. Most importantly, I’ve met some fabulous people this year whom I now regard as treasured colleagues.
I used to consider networking to be a necessary evil. It seemed rather contrived. And I suppose networking only for the sake of seeing what one can get out of it is a bit self-serving. Now I approach networking with a spirit of curiosity. Will I see an old friend and reconnect? What will I learn from the speaker that will inspire me to be a better fundraiser, coach or person? Will I meet someone who has a need I can meet?
I’ve learned that introverts can be good networkers. We just need a little quiet time before and after the events. After a year of consistently getting out there, I’m confident this is an action I can continue.
And now it’s about time to look at 2015. Do I have a word or phrase that identifies what I want to work on next year? Yes, yes I do. I look forward to sharing it with you tomorrow.