Atlanta is the 9th largest metropolitan city in the United States, and has been steadily growing in the past decade. One signigicant part of Atlanta life is a large and actively growing nonprofit sector. Moving here can be a daunting task: settling into a new place involves a ton of work, from applying for jobs and moving into a new apartment or home, to creating a new professional and social network. To make adjusting to your new life here a little easier, we would like to offer some tips on how to enlarge your professional and social networks related to nonprofits:
1. Utilize Linkedin to make connections.
- Join some open, nonprofit-based, Atlanta groups. Feel free to mention that you are a newcomer to Atlanta, and ask about networking opportunities as well as what the current happenings are in the Atlanta nonprofit sector. LinkedIn is great for creating and getting involved in discussions, and your fellow LinkedIn members will often be eager to offer advice and assistance where they can. You never know what sort of online connection can lead to an offline one!
- Some suggested groups: both the Atlanta Nonprofit Professionals and Georgia Center for Nonprofits groups are very active. You can also check our small but growing group for the Foundation Center-Atlanta! In addition to local groups, you can also start conversations in other popular national nonprofit/social sector groups like the Chronicle of Philanthropy to see if other Atlanta-based members would like to connecting with you
2. Check Facebook
- Facebook is a different type of social media tool than Twitter and LinkedIn. Facebook has a tendency to be a lot more personal, unlike Twitter and LinkedIn which can be more distant and professional. However, you can use Facebook's personal aspect to your advantage. See if any of your old high school or college friends have made the move to Atlanta, or if they know anyone that has. Shoot them a message, and see if you can find out more about the Atlanta landscape.
- You can also use Facebook as a tool to get connected with local Atlanta nonprofits you may be interested in working with. Nonprofit Facebook pages can be a great way to get more information about their work, mission, vision, and upcoming events.
3. Ever heard of Meetup.com?
- While not as popular as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn; Meetup.com is a great way to take your online social and professional engagements offline. For example, I once had a young woman from New York shoot me a message. She asked me what the top industries were, how difficult or easy it was to connect with others, and what the employment situation in Atlanta was like. I was happy to offer my viewpoints, as she was moving to Atlanta in around three weeks.
- Research some professional, networking, and volunteer based groups in Atlanta that are active, and send an email to the organizer detailing your interest in the group. Some groups require that you give a bio before joining, or are approved. However, the process to join and start attending a group is easy, and most of the times free (if there are group dues they are normally always under $15).
- Through Volunteermatch, Dosomething.org, HandsOnAtlanta, through a search in Google, or a reference from a friend research some nonprofit organizations that you are interested in working with. Compile a list of about ten, and see which one is a best fit for you. If you are looking for work this is a great way to get your “foot in the door” in the nonprofit world, and make some great contacts. If you do come to Atlanta, and are looking for work a great idea would be to volunteer at two organizations. The purpose of the first would be to use and further develop you skills for some resume building. The other one could be a team project that enables you to meet, work, and network with others.
- Meetup.com has 3-4 active Atlanta volunteer groups that serve a nonprofit at least once a month. They fill up fast, so always check them at the beginning of the month to see where their next project will be.
5. Get Involved with some Atlanta Professional Networking groups:
- YNPN—Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Atlanta: This group is based in a lot of large U.S. cities and serves to connect young nonprofit professionals with each other as well as offer professional development opportunities. They meet once a month at a metro-Atlanta restaurant. Some events are around $10.00 to attend, but if you become a member at $35 a year the events will be free. They also periodically have free events for members and non-members with the only cost being the purchase of food.
- AFP—Association of Fundraising Professionals Greater Atlanta Chapter: They have some free networking events throughout the year, like the Giving USA reveal events. With a paid membership, you can network further at monthly chapter meetings, and gain professional development benefits.
- Atlanta Under 40: This group is not strictly for nonprofits, but it is a great way to meet Atlanta-based professionals, and still have a chance to run into those from the social sector. Atlanta Under 40 meets monthly at a restaurant, lounge, or private club for professional mixers. There is no membership, and the cost is around $10 per event.
- ATLANTA+acumen: this group is great for those who are looking to venture into social enterprise, and gain more insight and connections in social entrepreneurship. They meet normally once a month with speakers, opportunities for networking, and ways to gain inside knowledge on Atlanta’s budding social enterprise industry.
Relocating to any city can be challenging, but hopefully these tips can help make network-building a little easier. For more information on networking for your nonprofit using social media take a look at Beth Kanter's Philanthrophy Chat: The Networked Nonprofit.
Chanell Turner, Special Initiatives Intern, Foundation Center-Atlanta