You’ve landed your dream job. Your next step: make sure it doesn’t become a nightmare. Consider these nine ways to tap your network.
- When sharing news of your new position with friends and family, don’t forget to ask for guidance. Most people want to support your success: the biggest challenge is asking the right people for the right things. Don’t ask one person for everything you want to know. Ask one or two questions from a diversity of people in your network.
- Consider those areas that might be a challenge in your new position. Request recommendations for conferences and workshops your peers have found valuable. There are many to choose from, but an experienced fundraiser, executive or college president will refer you to ones that are specifically relevant to your position, rich in content, and that include opportunities to build your network.
- Ask for a view of the road ahead. Meet one-on-one with individuals who are more experienced and who have a successful track record. Ask about the obstacles you may be up against, and how to overcome them. Too often we don’t know what we don’t know and then feel “blindsided” by events that are actually par for the course.
- Create an advisory council of friends, associates and peers. Call on these people proactively as you develop strategies. Depending on the opportunity you may want to talk with someone who knows your community, or someone from out of town who won’t be competing for the same resources.
- Expand your advisors to include people who can help you manage stress. In fundraising – as with many other businesses – stress can take you out. Include your personal trainer, life coach, minister or prayer partner as an advisor.
- If you are married or in a committed relationship ask your peers about how they include their spouse in their many work-related commitments and how they protect their relationship from the strains that a fundraising career can impose. Ask now, don’t wait until the stresses pile up.
- Create a “listening tour.” Talk to people in your department, across the organization and community. Learn the good and the bad related to your position and ask “how can I be most successful?” If possible, talk with your predecessor.
- Put what you learn to practice. After all the talking create a plan for your first three months on the job. Map out how you will use the guidance and information you have gained.
- Once on the job, create a climate where people can make suggestions. Whether the old fashioned suggestion box or its electronic counterpart, stay open to suggestions and you will grow in your career.
Whether taking a position as a development director, data manager, or executive director the time to ask – and listen, listen, listen – is now.
Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.