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Being connected to other social impact leaders is empowering

By February 25, 2016Social Impact

I think that we all know that connections with other people are powerful – they form a social fabric in which we exist, and they can build a network that we can rely on for inspiration, action, and support. I think this is why I’m already intensely enjoying my experience in the RADIUS SFU Fellowship in Radical Doing – that connection to other leaders and emerging leaders who are doing amazing things. As an introverted person, I’m normally not at my best when I’m in a big crowd – but this crowd is full of amazing people.

This experience leads me to think that a special kind of connection – of networking, if you will – could be very valuable for social impact leaders. 

A huge part of the RADIUS Fellowship is being connected to 19 other amazing leaders. If you want to know more about them, you can learn about them over here. I’m thrilled to be in this program with them, because I constantly think I’m learning things from my colleagues simply from being in the same room with each other.

Importantly, I think there’s tremendous value in being connected with these people because I get to experience different viewpoints to common challenges we’re facing. Many of the projects led by the people in the RADIUS Fellowship have mental health goals at their core, or goals relating to providing people with tools to build their capacity to find meaningful work or income. Other projects are related to sustainable design, whether it be product or housing. All in all, there are tons of different projects with overlapping goals.

What’s really cool about this is that we get to see a myriad of viewpoints from different experiences all engaging with these overlapping ideas and goals. Different experiences give us different background and different approaches to solving comparable problems – and if one approach doesn’t work, it can often seem like you’re stuck there until you find a new way to look at the problem. Here’s where that connection is super important – you can broaden out your ideas on how to solve the problems you’re working on simply by talking about them with people who are passionate about their projects, especially where those projects may overlap!

This principle holds true for more than just thinking about solutions to problems you might be facing. Connecting to people with similar passions might open the doors to finding resources you need, potential new supporters, connections to funders, and more.

Using connection for social impact

The potential of that connection – even if it’s just for viewpoints towards finding solutions to problems – is one that cannot be understated for people practicing int eh social impact sphere. Projects that aim to change the world won’t have much success if they’re not connected to similar projects and networks of people that support them.

This is more than just networking. Classic networking these days seems to be mostly social events with a purpose of exchanging business cards to potentially build business links. I think there’s huge value in networking, in terms of building awareness about your business and your brand, but if you want to make it work for your social enterprise or social impact organization, you need to turn classic networking on its head.

Take networking to a new level. Build real connections that are genuine – and develop connections with people that will help you build your social enterprise or social impact organization to a new level.

If this is making you think about the potential of connecting for your business, get in touch. I’d love to connect with you.

About Kevin Harding

Kevin Harding is a principal of the Incipe Cooperative, and is a volunteer board member of the Art for Impact Society. He has worked in the nonprofit, public, and cooperative sector for some time, and has a passion for working with coops, nonprofits, and advocacy groups that want to make a better world. A coop developer, he strongly believes that cooperatives can build a better world.

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