Thursday, January 22, 2015

Are you over-connected and under-noticed?

There comes a point in every business where you simply hit a development wall. Nonprofits are no different.

In many ways, the internet connectivity we all prize (or maybe despise!) contributes to that sudden stop.

The internet of today is a cacophony of digitized noise. Try following a few Twitter feeds and see how much real thought goes into them and measure how much value you are getting from them.
In the rush to have the most likes, followers, retweets or comments it's easy to lose sight of the real purpose of all those connections.

In a business sense, connections are supposed to be about interactive communications that provide value for both sides.

Take a look at your own favorite sites. What keeps you clicking on them?

Is it just to kill time?  To keep score to see how many of your own comments are being commented on?  To have some sort of social life?  Because everyone else is doing it?

If your connectivity isn't producing value, why are you still doing it?

Case in point. I recently reconnected with a person I had known fairly well at one time; not a BFF exactly but we had a pretty close acquaintanceship until she moved away. This was a while ago…before Twitter even existed.

I ran into her at the grocery store, and while we were trying to do the whole catching up thing, she never took her eyes completely off her phone. Twitter was scrolling the whole time. At one point she did mention she was looking for work, but when I asked for particulars, she was busy re-tweeting something and didn't answer.

It didn't take very long for me to see that our face-to-face meeting was only occupying about 10% of her attention, and I did the "well, it was nice to see you…call me sometime" thing.

That's sort of what happens when you focus on just one outreach strategy. You get so busy trying to build a broad audience, you forget that you need to develop real focused relationships.

For instance, let's say one of your grantor targets or a major donor prospect doesn't accept LOI's and you have no contacts in common. Think about something you have or can create, like a white paper or case study that has value to them. Drop them an email and offer it to them, no strings attached.

 Your email might read like this:

I noticed that you are seeking information on X.  I (we) have a case study on X that may help you.  I (we) would be happy to forward it if you are interested."

All of a sudden you are connected. Will that always result in an invitation to apply for that $100K grant or a $1 million endowment? Maybe, maybe not. The purpose is to get on their radar, but by offering something of value, there is an upside for them to notice and contact you.

It gives you a chance to present your organization, prove that you have value to add to their mission, and gives you an excuse to connect again to get feedback on the offering.

This works. One nonprofit that tried this strategy received program funding for three years as a result of this kind of outreach.
If you don't have any material that you can offer, it could be time and money well spent to develop a case study, white paper, manual or other outreach material that goes beyond the typical brochure, tweet or Facebook posting.

If you or someone you know would like more information on implementing this strategy, give me a shout at

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