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Better Together

Networking is essential for any social enterprise to thrive - it really is a crucial part of a sustainability strategy, but is something we all forget about when we are busy.

Here are some suggestions for effective networking strategies and key connections you should prioritize:

  1. Other Social Entrepreneurs: Connect with fellow social entrepreneurs who share similar values and missions. They can provide valuable insights, support, ideas, and potential collaboration opportunities.

  2. Nonprofit Organizations: Build relationships with other non-profit organizations that operate in your field or serve similar target populations. Collaborating with non-profits can help amplify your impact and reach; and can help you access new opportunities.

  3. Corporate Partners: Seek partnerships with socially responsible corporations that align with your mission. Corporate partnerships can provide funding, resources, and access to new markets, as well as a sense of credibility and authority.

  4. Government Agencies: Engage with government agencies and policymakers who are involved in the social impact sector. They may offer funding opportunities, policy support, invaluable insights, data, or access to networks.

  5. Investors and Funders: Connect with impact investors, venture capitalists, philanthropic foundations, and other funders interested in social innovation. Be prepared to pitch your enterprise and demonstrate your impact potential. People do business with people - so don't be afraid of talking to the 'money people'......if they like you and trust you there's an increased chance they will invest in you.

  6. Community Leaders: Build relationships with community leaders, including local politicians, activists, faith leaders, and influencers. They can help raise awareness about your enterprise and connect you with community resources.

  7. Academic Institutions: Partner with universities, research institutions, and academic experts who can provide expertise, research support, and access to student volunteers. Funding is also an option here too - just check out Knowledge Transfer Partnerships for more ideas!!

  8. Media and Influencers: Cultivate relationships with journalists, media contacts, vloggers, bloggers, and social media influencers who cover topics related to your cause. They can help raise awareness and generate publicity for your enterprise.

  9. Volunteers and Supporters: Engage with volunteers, donors, and supporters who are passionate about your cause. They can become ambassadors for your enterprise and help spread the word to their networks.

  10. Professional Networks: Join relevant industry associations, networking groups, and online communities related to social entrepreneurship. Participating in these networks can help you stay updated on industry trends and connect with like-minded professionals.

  11. Clients: as recommended in Peters and Waterman's seminal business research, 'In Search of Excellence', "Staying close to the customer" is crucial for excellent companies. Spending time with your clients, getting to know them, gathering feedback, and consulting with them brings considerable benefit to the organisation.

Remember to approach networking with authenticity, reciprocity, and a genuine interest in building meaningful relationships. Focus on building trust and rapport with your contacts, and always be prepared to offer value in return for their support.

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