Insights from the Inside: Cultivating Outsized Influence
This post is part of a series providing a road map for real world operational management of non-profits and social enterprises. The author, Gene Miller, has held a variety of high-stakes leadership positions in diverse industries through crisis periods and great successes. This series shares her results-based approach, presenting practical guides for how to get things done. She can be reached at genemillerassociates.com.
phrase consisting of adjective and noun
1. To have an exceptionally large impact beyond the norm; a compelling force.
Your challenge, like many social enterprise or not for profit leaders, is to magnify market awareness of your work and have amplified impact in your space. In the early stages this can be quite challenging even with access to the many benefits that social media offers. There are, however a number of creative strategies you can infuse into your tool kit in order to help achieve outsized influence.
I like to segment these into two broad categories, entrepreneurial relationships and promotional activities.
One of the great ways to expand your brand is through partnerships. An agreement with a more established organization with vast membership can provide a major retail distribution outlet for your service/product, extending your bandwidth. Other types of partnerships may bring other attributes such as technical advancements or supply advantages. Partnerships, not unlike any other relationship, are not without work, but the payoff can be deep market impact early in your organization life cycle.
PEER CEO RELATIONSHIPS
It’s quite powerful to have a highly regarded leader already established in your space or in a correlated market, make introductions and recommend you to funders and key constituents. (It also is a great help to have a colleague with whom you share organizational challenges and administrative tips.) Be prepared to “give as well as take” because for this to work it needs to be a two way street.
Travel and conferences may seem to be a luxury but at a well-chosen venue, it’s amazing who you can meet. If there’s a speaker you want to know, email them ahead of time asking to have coffee. Or you can show up 10 minutes early to their presentation, (much better than being in a beauty contest for their attention after the fact). Tweet during the event. Retweets can lead to introductions and new followers. Get to know fellow attendees as well as the organizing team, as you never know who is in the audience or who may be interested in helping your venture move forward.
Hopefully you relish the challenge of speaking, because there are likely programs in your space that welcome presenters. You just need to reach out and provide a summary of your offering. Assuming you are invited, I suggest you take the time to develop a thoughtful, creative presentation with a strong delivery. Have your team tweet referencing the host’s handle and seek retweets. Connect with the event’s social media or production team about the best way to dovetail with their social media efforts to amplify reach for both organizations. Make sure they have your social media info and handles even if they don’t ask for it. Public presentations and the social media follow up can open up all kinds of new pathways.
Research them, get one, and promote like crazy when you are selected. Everyone loves a winner and likes to choose the already chosen. When I was previously building out an innovative new not for profit, our start up team took the time to find local and national social entrepreneurship awards. We applied to multiple ones and were fortunate to receive a state nonprofit innovation award and a national creative impact honor. They became our door openers and the basis of our elevator pitch, catching the attention of many important constituents, including funders.
This is just the tip of the iceberg – there are many, many more strategies to grow influence – seek them out and find the ones that make the most sense for your organization at the stage it is at. These are ones with which I have had experience and success in magnifying organizational reach, while operating on a limited budget and in the early stage of organization development.
TACTICAL TAKEAWAY: THE NAME OF THE GAME IS IMPACT AND YOU WANT TO BUILD INNOVATIVE RELATIONSHIPS AND USE CREATIVE PROMOTIONAL TACTICS TO EXPAND YOUR BRAND AND ENJOY OUTSIZED INFLUENCE.