How can we expand our network and engage more people in the vision of our organization?
I get this question all the time from the leaders I work with and the answer to this question starts with YOU. As a leader, you have to be taking intentional steps to grow your reach and your influence. This will lead to future giving, volunteers, and involvement. But it all starts with you.
Here are four things you can do for drastic and consistent growth of your network and your influence.
1. Spend copious amounts of time face to face and one on one with people who could be potential givers or influencers. I’m going to assume you’re already doing this. But every time you meet with someone are you asking the question, “Who else should I be talking to?”
If you sit there quietly, with a pen and notebook in hand after asking this question, the person will nearly always give you two or three names.
Think about this. If you meet with 10 people in the next few weeks, you ask each of them that question, on average, you’re going to get two or three names per person. That’s twenty to thirty people to follow-up with. If you do this, you’ll never run out of people to connect with. By the way, you will never outgrow the need to do this in a disciplined way.
2. Utilize a leadership task force. You need a task force of people who really understand that to move forward toward a vision, it takes people giving generously and investing in the future of the organization.
These are people who are in your corner. They want to see this organization go on and move forward and do bigger and better things. These are not people interested in seeing you maintain the status quo. These are busy people who get things done. Recruit and fill a small task force of people who fit those descriptors.
Ask this group of people to review your list of names and help you identify and build a list of new people, groups, or networks that you need to begin growing connections.
3. Form additional advisory groups, focusing on one particular component of your vision or one particular people group. This is not about needing tons of advice. It’s about the fact that different people groups help provide different insights and will also get more engaged in the work you are doing.
Examples of task forces I’ve been involved in and started include a professional women’s leadership task force, a millennials task force, a retired business-owners task force, and an entrepreneurial task force. The idea is to bring like-minded people together. This engages more people in your vision and helps you broaden your influence into different audiences.
4. Identify two groups to become a part of outside your professional circle on a yearly basis. Educators tend to talk to educators. Ministry leaders tend to hang out with other nonprofit ministry leaders. Development people tend to hang out with other development people. All of that is fine to an extent. The problem with this homogenous approach is that you end up having the same conversations over and over again, which means you’re not actually reaching very many new people.
Identify, on a yearly basis, just two groups really outside your comfort zone. This will stretch you into different directions. These opportunities are going to grow you, and you’re going to meet completely different groups of people who are going to become interested in your vision and the work God has called you to as they get to know you and develop a real relationship with you.
If you start doing even one of these four disciplines you’ll see a cumulative effect of your influence and network as you experience exponential growth. This is a work you can do, that you must do, and that no one else is going to do for you. The future sustainability of your vision truly depends on this.