The Biggest Networking Mistake I’ve Ever Made

Networking is one of the most important activities you can do in your career. It gets you connected to people who have the authority to make things happen. Some of my greatest successes can be credited to knowing people who either had the power to do something for me, or had the ability to influence the person who did. Anytime I’m invited to a function—a fundraiser, wedding, or even a party—I’m always thinking about it from a networking perspective.

I wish I knew how valuable networking was 15 years ago. Back then, I was rubbing shoulders with the right people, but I didn’t know what to do with those relationships. I’ve had incredible luck with being ushered into the private space of public officials and community leaders. I knew how significant those relationships were at the time, but I didn’t know how they could serve the greater good.

As I look back, I’m now aware that I made a huge networking mistake. I failed to network strategically. I enjoyed meeting and engaging new people, but I did not think strategically about how those individuals—or the people they were connected with—could help the organizations I was connected to.

As you network, think strategically about how the people you meet might contribute to your non-profit. I’ve found new donors, partnerships, staff members, friends, and volunteers. Instead of trying to fit the people you meet into a particular box, think bigger about the role they might have in the life of your organization. 

Question: How are you going to approach networking differently?