Workshop March 8th
How to map key players for your organisation, make the most of events and spot
unseen opportunities to network.
What is networking?
Developing networks is about understanding who is important in the field that you work
in (key players) and developing relationships with them. A ‘key player’ analysis is a vital
first step in mapping out who else is influential in the field in which your charity
A framework for identifying key players
The list below can be used to list all the organisations or groups external to your charity
which could be perceived as key players (that is groups, organisations and individuals
who are not part of your organisation, but who do similar work or who have an interest
in the area in which you work; for example, organisations working with the same
beneficiaries, funders, government departments, regulatory bodies or umbrella bodies).
For each key player, categorise their interest and influence in relation to your
organisation according to 'High', 'Medium', 'Low' (H,M,L). Also note their expectations,
needs and their attitude to your performance.
Name of key
interest in us
1 X H M
2 Y M L
How do the key players relate to your work?
Having identified who the key players are, you might want to think about how
they relate to your work. Mapping the territory involves identifying the areas
where you overlap and the areas where you are distinctly different from others.
You can do this by firstly listing all the key players and considering their services,
their beneficiaries, their values and approach. You should include your own
organisation in this listing. You can then draw some comparisons between what
you and others do.
Framework for mapping key players
Networking skills and opportunities
Once you are clear about the key players in your area think about how to make the
most of the networking opportunities available to you. There are any number of
networking opportunities for charities and groups, from local and national consultation
events and seminars, to book launches and in recent years we have seen the growth of
online networking with social media sites like Facebook, Bebo, Linkedin and Twitter.
These all provide great opportunities for finding out more about the key players in your
field as well as promoting your own work.
Tips for event networking
Here are some tips to help you make the most of your next networking opportunity -
before, during and after the event.
Before the event:
Be clear why you wish to attend the event. What is it about this event that you think will
be useful for your group? Have a look at the attendance list and see who you would like
to meet and what questions you would you like to ask. What information or knowledge
would you like to gain as a result of your attendance?
Obtain a guest or attendance list before the event. Pick out two or three people you
would like to meet. Be clear why you would like to meet them. What do you want to ask
or find out? What do you hope to achieve as a result of this meeting?
Prepare “an elevator pitch” of yourself: some words to describe yourself and your
charity in a minute – include three key points.
Remember to take enough business cards with you on the event to hand out to those
At the event:
Go to the meeting having prepared a couple of 'icebreaker' questions or sentences you
might say to start a conversation with someone you don’t know.
Take advantage of 'easy' and more natural opportunities to make contacts: speak to
people when you are registering; when you are queuing for coffee or lunch; when you
are seated (if applicable).
Ask groups or individuals if they know any of the people you wish to meet. This in itself
gives you something to ask people you don’t know and gets over that difficult situation
of having to go up to groups of people you don’t know. It may also lead to an interesting
discussion with that person or group and/or they may be able to direct you to the person
you wish to speak to. This will prevent you staying too long and – you may want an
escape route – and this provides you with a polite reason to move on!
Exchange details with people you wish to stay in contact with.
Immediately after the event:
Email the people with whom you want to stay in touch, reminding them what you
discussed or something that will be memorable to them about you. Remember that you
don’t know how many people they may have met at the event and you want them to
Reflect on your networking experience:
What went well?
What was a surprise?
Did you meet the person or people you wanted to meet?
Who else did you meet?
What did you learn?
What would you differently next time?
Plan for the next event where you can practice your new skills!
Other ways to develop your network
Invite feedback on your services
Feedback from key players on how well you are doing is always useful. Use interviews,
questionnaires or telephone discussions to make contact and find out how others
perceive your services and where you might learn from what they are doing.
Set up visits
Invite key players to visit your organisation to meet staff and volunteers and to see how
you operate. Consider holding an ‘open session’ where people can informally drop in
and talk to staff and see how your service works.
Join networking groups
There are many relevant networking groups for the voluntary sector; they may focus on
a region (for example, County Durham), specific area of interest (for example,
homelessness) or function (for example, finance). See signposts below for more
Subscribe to trade press
Read the magazines and newsletters that are relevant to your work and get involved by
writing letters or contributing articles on issues you feel passionate about.
Set up an umbrella group or network
If, having developed relationships with key players, you find you do want to maintain the
links, consider setting up your own umbrella group or network
Have your say
With thanks to the NCVO for this free handout. For more useful information go to: