Networking from home – how to best handle the pandemic as a furloughed fundraiser

Working from home for the last year has left over half of furloughed employees feeling an impact on their mental health. According to Westfield Health, 61% said financial concerns were the cause of this impact. The desire to network, to meet colleagues again and to feel connected to work are very real issues for those furloughed or those who have been made redundant.  Without the ability to get out and about to meet other fundraisers the opportunities are limited. 

Leading b2b charity National Funding Scheme works with numerous online fundraisers, many of whom have reimagined their at-home working lives either by becoming consultants or using this time to build their skills. The following are key learnings we have heard from those who have adapted during this period.  

Top of the list: Pursue what you love:

The best way to get up in the morning and have a spring in your step is to pursue what you love. Authenticity and belief are key. Whether it’s communications, marketing or fundraising, where you can show knowledge and insight, you will find individuals with similar interests to connect with. 

There are thousands of groups across social media platforms that are packed full of professionals in the same sector discussing newsworthy items and looking to collaborate on ideas. Check out Guild.co and specifically the CAFE Fundraisers Community for inspiration. Here you’ll find a resource that can put you in touch with other fundraisers as well as providing useful resources to help you use your skills. 

For more inspiration take a look at: https://seths.blog/2009/04/first-ten/

Market ready:

If you are networking to widen your employment reach, ensure you are market ready. Update your social platforms, such as Linkedin and Guild and decide what your approach is. The key is to tailor your notes to each new contact, matching what you have to offer with their requirements. Don’t dismiss new skills you may have learnt during lockdown either; transferable and softer skills such as resourcefulness, determination and curiosity are all essential and valuable traits for fundraisers. 

Whilst they may seem unconnected, remember your existing networks from education, previous roles and family and friends. Each of these can open up opportunities. Many companies hire internally or put feelers out before posting the job online, and networking with the right people can give you a headstart.

For more inspiration take a look at: https://seths.blog/2004/08/starting_over/

Adding value:

Wherever you can show off your skills and knowledge, you add value to your profile, showing yourself as a future asset to any team. Look at hosting webinars or podcasts, or simply start to become known through posts on social media, blogs and articles. Try wordpress.org to set up a blog or you can explore your passions vocally using Anchor.fm to download a podcast app.  This can be an enjoyable way to establish yourself as an expert in your field, whilst also helping to make you feel connected with others. 

You could also boost your CV with some training, research around a growing channel like digital fundraising or use the time to pick up a new skill that gives you an edge and opens up new job opportunities.

For more inspiration take a look at: https://seths.blog/2016/03/what-are-you-competing-on/

Keep learning: 

Keep on top of current affairs in the sector through conversational social media groups. Being proactive by providing regular thought pieces or commenting on articles is a great way to open yourself up to new contacts who follow similar topics to you. 

With virtual networking you can go beyond your normal four walls, interacting with professionals across the country, and the world, to make new connections. A great way to focus on the areas you want to grow your contacts is to make a list of organisations and people you wish to know on a professional level. LinkedIn is a great resource for this. Remember to do your research first and be clear about your needs. 

For more inspiration take a look at: https://seths.blog/2020/04/but-what-could-you-learn-instead/

Nurture your contacts:

Don’t forget to stay connected to your current network, nurturing relationships so that when they spot relevant opportunities they will think of you and put you in touch.

It can help to offer your services pro bono as a way to keep your hand in and to show your skills.  Whilst it won’t help with the financial strain immediately, it shows a willingness to help and this will pay dividends later. 

For more inspiration take a look at: https://seths.blog/2008/01/who-you-know/

Networking from home doesn’t have to be arduous and for many it’s how they find new roles. Whether it’s joining social groups, ensuring you stay connected to your current network or picking up a new skill, now is the time to start networking from home with ease. For more insight, networks like Guild.co can also provide help for fundraisers to share ideas, learnings and build up contacts.