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Knowledge Share #18: The Power of Networking

by Lisa Schlarbaum, Director of Development

Does networking come easy to you or does it feel like hard work?

Does it make you uncomfortable or do you find yourself meeting new people in the oddest of situations?

I believe some of us are just natural networkers, but for some of us, it seems like a chore.

However, if you have a natural curiosity about people, places or things, you can learn to network. Not long ago, I spent an evening with friends, and by the end of the night I had met four new people that I connected with regarding my work at Hope House.

It started with an Uber driver, who happened to know my neighbors, and ended with a friend of my husband who wanted to make a work connection for me.  What’s crazy is that I had no intention of meeting anyone other than the friends I was joining for a night out.

What I’ve found over the years is that sometimes just striking up a conversation, asking a few questions, and building rapport can lead to making a connection for something you are working on or someone important to you. If you do this often enough, you will be surprised at how you can turn random chance encounters into important contacts for your organization, friends, kids, or whatever you are passionate about!

Remember the Six Degrees of Separation theory? This theory asserts that all living things are six or fewer steps away from each other so that a chain of "friend of a friend" statements can be followed to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps.

Most of us who are networkers believe that we are literally just six people away from almost anyone. Remember the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game? It proves you can link almost anyone to Kevin Bacon through just six connections!

How do you make this theory work for you? Forget everything your mother ever told you! Make eye contact, talk to strangers, be yourself -- or become your outgoing extrovert self and ask that stranger if they’ve had the skinny mocha Frappuccino. Was that a good book? Is this seat taken? Ask questions until you make that connection -- and then keep going.

I do believe you can teach yourself this skill.

I was a quiet, shy child. My mother would tell you she never dreamed I would have a career in sales since that involved being an extrovert! I would like to challenge you to say, “I am going to strike up a conversation with someone I don’t know tomorrow.”  I guarantee that if you get in this habit, you will gain new connections.

Nearly everyone likes to talk about themselves or something that they are interested in, and your goal is to figure out what they are interested in and make that connection… and then connect them to your work at your nonprofit organization.

The results can be exciting.  Just this past week I connected one of our teen moms to a former board member so she could learn more about the real estate industry. I connected another young mom to my husband’s company for a potential job interview. Then I ran into a friend who offered some gently used Apple computers to donate to two of our teen moms who are about to start college.

You never know whose life can be changed by that new connection you are going to make tomorrow! What are you waiting for? 

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Blog Archives

January 2018

Organizational Growth Cycles: Stages that Lead to a Mature Nonprofit - 01/23/2018

November 2017

Knowledge Share #19: Creating Unity: The Power of Mealtime - 11/20/2017

October 2017

Knowledge Share #18: The Power of Networking - 10/12/2017

September 2017

Knowledge Share #18: Engaging the Millennial Generation - 09/19/2017

August 2017

Knowledge Share #17: When the Dream Seems Too Big - 08/17/2017

July 2017

Knowledge Share #16: Personalized Learning - The Cornerstone of our GED Program - 07/18/2017

June 2017

Knowledge Share #15: Special Needs and Special Moms - 06/08/2017

April 2017

Knowledge Share #14: Creating Connections through Children - 04/18/2017

March 2017

Knowledge Share #13: Managing Volunteers: Benjamin Franklin had it right! - 03/13/2017

February 2017

Knowledge Share #12: Advocacy and Self-Sufficiency: Finding the Balance - 02/14/2017

January 2017

Knowledge Share #11: Effective PR and Spot On Communications - 01/18/2017

November 2016

Knowledge Share #10: I Walk the Line: Creating Deep Connections While Maintaining Professional Boundaries - 11/15/2016

September 2016

Knowledge Share #9: "Fundraising for Non-Profits: An Insider's Perspective" - 09/22/2016

August 2016

Knowledge Share #8: Breaking Out of Poverty - 08/18/2016

July 2016

Knowledge Share #7: Creating a Home - 07/11/2016

June 2016

Knowledge Share #6: The Power of Mindset - 06/14/2016

May 2016

Knowledge Share #5: College or Bust! - 05/17/2016

April 2016

Knowledge Share #4:Understanding Addiction - 04/07/2016

March 2016

Knowledge Share #3:Mentoring Empowers Teen Moms - 03/21/2016

February 2016

Knowledge Share #2: Healthy Relationships - 02/11/2016

January 2016

Knowledge Share #1: Brain Development - 01/12/2016

December 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #8: Communicating the Barriers - 12/16/2015

October 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #7: Homelessness - 10/09/2015

July 2015


June 2015

Teen Mom Barrier Number #5: Domestic Violence - 06/03/2015

May 2015

Teen Mom Barrier # 4 The Challenges of College - 05/12/2015

April 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #3: The Unexpected Bill: Car Repair, Doctor's Visit, Broken Pipe - 04/03/2015

February 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #2: Childcare - 02/18/2015

January 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #1: Society's Negative Expectations - 01/26/2015

December 2014

Teen Mom Misconception #7: Teen Moms Are Completely Self-Absorbed - 12/29/2014

October 2014

Teen Mom Misconception #6: Teen moms drop out of school because they want to - 10/31/2014

September 2014

Teen Mom Misconceptions #5: Success is Impossible - 09/22/2014

July 2014

Misconception #4: Shaming Teen Moms is an Effective Approach - 07/22/2014

June 2014

Misconception #3: Mentoring Teen Moms is Complicated - 06/05/2014

May 2014

Because they want someone to love them? - 05/21/2014

April 2014

Teen Moms - A Persecuted Population? - 04/22/2014

March 2014

Connecting across the Continents: Teen Moms and the People Who Love Them - 03/18/2014

February 2014

Can you break out of poverty with a vocabulary of just 900 words? - 02/17/2014

January 2014

Community - 01/20/2014

December 2013

8 Pennies - 12/18/2013

November 2013

"The most courageous young women I know." - 11/14/2013

September 2013

Our Graduates: In their hands, they hold the future! - 09/30/2013

August 2013

The Cliff Effect and Other Perils on the Journey to Self-Sufficiency - 08/30/2013

July 2013

Breaking the Cycle: Do Poor Teens Have to Become Poor Adults? - 07/30/2013

June 2013

Measuring the Intangible - 06/15/2013

May 2013

Grown-Up Mom - 05/01/2013


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Kristina Shade said: Laura, you are such a blessing in our daughter and grandson's life. I remember Kyra coming home ea ...   [more]

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Kristina Shade said: Laura, you are such a blessing in our daughter and grandson's life. I remember Kyra coming home each ...   [more]

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