Remember when 2016 was shiny and new and you made professional development resolutions in a haze of champagne-fueled optimism? If your goals are seeming difficult in the cold light of winter day, you aren’t alone. According to this cheery article from U.S. News and World Report, 80% of all resolutions fail by the second week of February.
That’s why YNPN Boston is launching Nonprofit Squad Goals, a regular series of challenges to help you tackle your professional development goals in small, bite-sized pieces throughout the year. We’ll offer advice and give you a platform to network with other young nonprofit professionals who have committed to making 2016 the best year yet for their careers. You can join the challenge and share your journey by using the hashtag #npsquadgoals.
In our 2015 Young Nonprofit Professional survey, 87% of respondents reported that expanding professional contacts is important to their professional growth. So, we’re kicking off #npsquadgoals with our first challenge of 2016: Strengthen Your Network!
By the end of February, challenge yourself to:
- Attend one networking or professional development event (like our upcoming February 24th networking event --stay tuned for more details soon!)
- Set up one informational interview. Identify one person who can help you achieve the professional development goal you established for yourself for 2016, and reach out to them to grab a cup of coffee. Don’t forget to prep to make sure you get the most out of your time with them!
- Reconnect with one existing professional contact. Consider sending a Valentines-themed thank you card or setting calendar reminders to yourself to email your most important contacts a few times per year with updates.
- Share your victory with us and spread the motivation! Write to us, comment on this blog post, or share a selfie on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram using the #npsquadgoals hashtag.
Need some help getting started on this challenge? Here are some tips:
Set a networking goal or intention
By the end of this year, how would you like your networking to impact you? Would you like to have found a new job? Learned a specific skill? Joined a board or started volunteering?
Write down this goal or intention to keep your networking purposeful. This will lead to more genuine connections and to a greater sense of personal motivation.
Map it out
Just like we need to set aside dedicated time to go to the gym, networking is most successful when it is intentionally scheduled. Take a moment to audit your free time and be honest about your capacity and energy. For example, my goal is to attend two networking events and complete one informational interview per month, but you should set a goal that is right for you.
Once you have committed to a measurable plan, consider the goal or intention you set in step one, and brainstorm who can help you get there and when you will contact them.
For example, if your goal is to join a board this year, gather a list of organizations that accept board members with your level of experience and skills. Find a way to make a personal connection with each of those organizations. Try connecting through your alma mater, through shared connections (LinkedIn can help you find those), or by volunteering for one of their events.
If you’re not sure where to begin with networking, start at the connection hubs. Meet with someone at an organization where many others converge, such as New Profit, Net Impact Boston, or YNPN Boston, and let that contact guide you to the next one. You can also check out last year’s post Three Ways to Refresh Your Network in 2015 for more ideas.
Take the #npsquadgoals challenge!
- Attend one networking event, schedule one informational interview, and reconnect with one important contact this month.
- Share your journey! Tell us how it went or share a selfie on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram by using the #npsquadgoals hashtag.
- Continue your #npsquadgoals journey by taking our additional challenges:
Alyson Weiss is the co-Director of Communications and Marketing at YNPN Boston and an independent career coach and workshop facilitator. By day, she works at Tufts University in the Office of Alumni Relations.