Guide to networking in the voluntary sector
At Voluntary Action Camden, we help local organisations work together in partnership and to find new opportunities. We also link organisations with key people who can help them thrive.
If your organisation is based in Camden, we can connect you to relevant training, events and support through our network of local connections.
Whether you’re looking to further your career in the voluntary sector, or build your voluntary organisation’s influence, we can help you get ahead with networking.
In this guide we explain why networking is important and how to network effectively in the voluntary sector.
We recommend taking various approaches to networking. The most reliable way by far is to attend events in person and get introduced to helpful and influential people who can further your goals. However, with the rise of social networks through digital platforms, making connections is no longer limited to physical location.
For instance, you can join our online forums and engage in discussions with others about important policy issues that affect communities in Camden.
If you are looking to expand your local network in Camden, volunteering at a Camden organisation is good way to make new connections.
We regularly promote opportunities to volunteer in our weekly newsletter, which you can subscribe to here.
Read more on volunteer networking.
At Voluntary Action Camden we promote networking as a way of building meaningful relationships so that we can solve more problems together, as a community. Connecting people and organisations is at the heart of what we do.
In our experience, those who try to work isolated from any local support network struggle to succeed and build influence. For this reason we are keen to grow local support networks and promote more ways for people and organisations to connect and get involved. Those who are part of the local network receive more support, which helps them to overcome challenges and meet their organisational goals.
However, we appreciate that local networking doesn’t come naturally to everyone. If you have ideas for helping people in Camden but you struggle to make connections, perhaps due to lack of experience, we can support you to build networking skills.
To be successful at networking, it helps to have a positive mindset about what you are promoting and the impact you can make. If you believe in yourself and your mission, you’ll be surprised at how receptive and helpful other people will be to your ideas.
Self confidence helps when you need to engage people and make meaningful connections, but it isn’t the most important characteristic. What matters is that you can articulate your organisation’s mission and explain the positive change you want to make in the community.
The time you spend working needs to be balanced with time spent gaining support to take your projects to the next level. People need to hear about what you have achieved and why it matters, otherwise all your hard work can get overlooked in the face of competing issues.
Authenticity might be a true measure of personal friendships, but to succeed professionally we need to recognise ourselves as part of something much bigger. Professional networking is a way to connect with other professionals who can help us to fulfil our goals and create lasting change.
What problem are you passionate about solving in the community? What do you want to achieve and what is your vision for the future? We can help you articulate a clear mission for your organisation that will connect with like-minded people.
Networking and communication go hand-in-hand. Both imply the exchange of information from one person to another. To network, you need to communicate with other people in order to build meaningful relationships with them. However, good communication works both ways: in order to understand what the other person is saying and respond appropriately, you need to be an active listener.
When you are part of a network you can receive a lot of useful information gathered from many appropriate sources outside the network. Likewise, you can share anything you find out which is relevant to organisations in the network. A great example of this is our Camden Voluntary Action Forum. You can find out more about increasing your digital communications skills in our guide.
Read more on how to build your network.