Relationships 101 | Let the Games Begin

In the second installment of our Relationships 101 Series, we’ll continue to examine social media through the lens of dating. Last week, we prepared ourselves to enter the market . We dressed the part, identified our ideal matches (supporters, donors, volunteers, board members, etc.), and figured out where to find them.  Now we’re ready to introduce ourselves to the world.

Cast a Wide Net:

Think about your best strategy when you head out for a night on the town. If you are looking for someone to chat up, do you set you sights on the first person you see or play the field and see who comes to you?  Many dating “experts” would recommend you circulate the room. Take a lap and look for familiar faces. Can’t seem to find anyone you know? Boost your confidence by mixing with individuals who appear interested. Notice the individuals who keep checking you out and say “hello.”

Lessons for Nonprofits: Don’t be intimidated. Get out there and meet people! Begin your “advances” by reaching out to individuals and other organizations you already know online. Friend, follow, and connect with them. Introduce yourself to some of their friends and followers and see where it leads. As you work to build your social media networks, continually seek out individuals in your area.  Look for men and women who have interests congruent with your mission and send requests their way.  While you are looking (and hoping) for quality supporters, you have to recognize there is also strength in numbers.   The more people you have in your network increases the number opportunities you’ll have to develop champions for your cause. (Disclaimer: See below for exceptions to this rule.)

Be a Flirt:

You’ve met someone who seems into you and you think he or she could have potential. (Congratulations! Now… let the games begin.) If you get nervous, you may talk too much or start to stumble over your words. Be cool and keep the dialogue moving.  Nothing kills a conversation quicker than silence. Tonight, though, the planets have aligned and things are going really well. You start complimenting their interests, appearance… anything! You are making excellent eye contact and leaning into the conversation.  Nonverbally, you are screaming, “I’m interested!”  (Research reveals these nonverbal cues… body language, etc… are even more important than anything you could say in the initial stages of a flirtation.)

Lessons for Nonprofits: You’ve made connections; now it’s time to start building relationships. Let your followers, friends, and fans know you are interested in them. Flirt! First, avoid awkward pauses in your “conversation.” Respond to requests in a timely manner and thank individuals and organizations for following your cause. Next, realize that while you won’t actually be able to make eye contact… you can get a closer look.  Examine profiles, posts, etc. and let individuals know you’ve taken the time to check them out. Flirting is all about feigning interest (until you truly connect, of course).  Lean in and investigate the information your followers provide. Connect their interests with your own to make a deeper connection.  “Like” something they do, “Retweet” an interesting post, etc. Relationships rely on reciprocity (mutual exchange). Your followers have taken the time to get to know you. Do the same! Remember: Every connection you make has the potential to turn into someone special (a volunteer, donor, board member, etc.).

Make Good Decisions:

Before you get carried away chatting up every Tom, Dick, and Harry on the street… remember the words of my sweet mother and “Cover your drink!” The world can be a crazy place. If you are picking up strange vibes, kindly excuse yourself and walk away.  Don’t put yourself in bad situations.

Lessons for Nonprofits: Unfortunately, not everyone in the world is out to help you. As you take a closer look at your online supporters, don’t be afraid to block, ban, and remove fans and followers.  Each connection you make online reflects your organization and simultaneously extends its reach. Protect your image by making sure this growth is headed in a positive direction.

Need more Relationship 101 advice? Check back soon to learn about the dreaded DTR (Defining the Relationship).