Humans are social creatures and, for the most part, do well in situations where we work with others. While it is acceptable for serendipitous connections and collaborations between organizations to develop, you will be more successful if you are strategic about with whom you partner. Deliberate and thoughtful expansion of your spheres of influence can enable you to expand outcomes of your work.
Your sphere of influence begins with the individuals with whom you already have a connection. This can include family and friends and does not have to be focused on those who work in the same field as you. Listing these contacts may help you visualize who you know and may point out gaps where your strategic action would be beneficial.
Also consider the secondary connections you have, such as friends of friends, when listing those in your sphere of influence. Getting a positive referral from another professional can you’re your organization win grants or other support and you can maximize this by deliberately reaching out to others.
Include in your thinking the organizations or individuals that you do not currently have contacts with but would like to work with in the future. Listing these organizations or names, when evaluated with your complete sphere of influence list may highlight strategic connections.
1. Attend networking events or events with the purpose of meeting other professionals. Look strategically at the new connections and see if they are beneficial additions to your sphere. People who do similar work, are connected to a different type of funder, or who ‘think like you’ could be beneficial to connect with after the networking event.
2. Touch-base with the individuals you meet to discuss potential collaborations or areas where your organizational missions overlap. It is often through these follow-up conversations where collaborations are developed and where referrals made.
3. Update your sphere of influence list regularly and plan for expanding it often. As you get to know more and more people, the word of your good work will reach more people. The more people you know, the more opportunity you will have for resource development.