Networking for Social Action

Although networking is commonly thought of primarily as a tool for bringing in business and finding a job, social activists, politicians and not-for-profit organizations focused on humanitarian efforts have always had networking at the core of their existence.

Networking satisfies a basic human need to feel a sense of belonging, to be part of something bigger than ourselves, to have a venue for contributing to others and to experience the satisfaction of making a difference. These basic human needs are all addressed with the true spirit of networking which is about building relationships to create value. This makes networking and social action natural, powerful partners.

In the past people with this type of mission, calling and passion have had to be vigilant in finding ways to connect with other individuals and groups where they could partner and combine resources to fulfill their visions. Now the internet is providing easy access and information that can make it so much easier for people to find ways to connect, communicate and make a difference. You have a global network of like-minded enthusiasts available to connect, share resources and influence the quality of life and future of our planet.

If used for a greater good, technology could turn out to be the critical factor that brings people together universally and globally to resolve and accept our differences bring us together with a great sense of being a global community.

Here are ten ways to utilize the internet to network and make a difference in the world:

1. Clearly identify your passion, desire and arena in which you desire to make a difference. You may choose to volunteer in an area that best utilizes a skill/talent that you already developed or you may choose to do something that requires something new of you and gives you a certain amount of adventure, variety and/or balance in life. Ask yourself what you feel is totally unacceptable in the world. What touches your heart? What do you feel passionate about?

2. Search for sites and organizations that are aligned with the focus of your social action. Go to a search engine such as Google.com and enter the keywords that represent the type of project/cause that you desire to support. Through the process of reviewing sites representing your chosen cause you will find information that can assist you in further defining how you want to get involved. Other sites available to assist you in your search for suitable organizations for your interest include
Idealist.org and GuideStar.org.

3. Sign up for appropriate online communities, blogs and usergroups. Once you find groups of like-minded people on the internet you can begin to participate. As Scott Allen recommends, take it slow and easy. Pick one or two groups to being with and begin by reviewing the information that people are displaying and the discussions that are in progress. Take time to see how people are responding, whether people are responding (are participants active), to find out if the discussions are in sync with topics and ideas that appeal to you. Once you have a clear sense of the alignment that you have with the people and focus of the site, then is a good time to “stick your toe in the water” by adding your comments and questions.

4. Research various projects that you might consider supporting. Read about the organizations you are interested in and also network with the people you know. Ask the people that you know and respect for their experiences and suggestions. Find out what types of causes, organizations and project people whom you know and respect are supporting. Ask them for their opinion about projects that you are considering.

5. Send emails requesting information regarding activities, events and projects. Ask for information. Gather information by requesting the information you need to make the best choices regarding your volunteer interests.

6. Send emails making requests for what you need to fulfill your projects. Utilize your own network of contacts to get others involved and get the help that you need to support your volunteer projects. Sometimes people are just waiting to be asked. Even people who would not typically volunteer their time or services may find themselves interested when someone else shows an interest in their participation.

7. Send emails offering your support and services. Let people know what you have to offer and how you want to contribute.

8. Send emails letting others know about opportunities that people can support. Pass along information to others in your network about events and opportunities. You never know when someone you know may be interested in getting involved in some social cause and you may be the stepping stone for them.

9. Create your own website promoting your cause and giving people a way to connect. The web is an easy platform for business, personal issues and social causes. If you have a personal website, be sure to include information about your involvement in social cause. Provide links to sites that give more information about the social cause that you support.

10. Create links on your website to other sites that further social action. On my business website, www.DonnaFisher.com, I have a Links page that includes business links, friend’s link and links of organizations that I believe in that are doing social good.