The ABCs of networking: amateur espionage, baseball, and coffee tables.
This third week of my dynamic fellowship I began to step out of my Homeport daily work and into the wide world of non-profit volunteer programs across Columbus. Out in this new, wide world I was schooled in the art of networking and making connections. After completing the first leg of my SOP project I began my week with some amateur espionage (I know this is more of an E word than an A word, but it’s called the ABCs not the EBCs, so Amateur espionage it is). I began my task of going undercover at other organizations’ volunteer orientations to research best practices that we can potentially implement at Homeport. I attended a volunteer orientation at Dress for Success Columbus, a non-profit that provides appropriate work attire and career counseling for women entering the job force. Experiencing orientation from a participant’s perspective allowed me to get a feel for what we need to provide for our own volunteers. After getting a tour of their location and received a short orientation to the different volunteer opportunities I had the opportunity to sit down with their volunteer coordinator to learn the benefits they have seen from doing a monthly volunteer orientation the way they do and where they have found the need for change in their own volunteer engagement. More importantly I made a valuable connection in the industry who was willing to be a colleague and important resource.
The next step in my networking crash course in Columbus non-profits was a fun one. Baseball! With my fellow summer fellows I attended a Clippers game and got to spend an evening socializing and getting a break from the world of work. We had an awesome time as we learned more about each other and continued to make connections.
After amateur espionage and baseball I was introduced to the most essential leg of my volunteer programming education, coffee tables. On Thursday my boss brought me to a meeting with the Volunteer Administrators Network, of which she is a member and officer. Not only did I get to meet several other volunteer coordinators from other Columbus-area non-profits, but I got to learn how to make coffee tables in the process. This VAN meeting was unique as it was their annual volunteer day for the members to practice what they preach. We spent the morning volunteering at the Furniture bank where we learned how to construct coffee tables and end tables.
It was a very valuable day for me to see another example of volunteer orientation and to make connections while constructing coffee tables. It was a great week and a great precursor to the Networking session next week at the Columbus Foundation.