Local Government Innovation & Redesign

To support local government redesign efforts and recognize the innovative work already underway, the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center has partnered with state associations to create the Local Government Innovation & Redesign Guide and host a yearly Local Government Innovations Awards ceremony.

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Six Ways to Rock Your Nonprofit Career

Six Ways

"In the land of ten thousand network, how can you be strategic?"

We just wrapped up a round of excellent events here in the PNLC. This particular discussion brought together a great panel of speakers, who had concrete ideas on how to really make your career happen.

Trista Harris, author of "How to Become a Nonprofit Rock Star" gave some steps:

Build expertise
Talk to other people in your position, volunteer in your community, network, attend events and conferences, join professional organizations, volunteer for conferences if you can't afford the fees.

Establish a personal brand
You already have a brand, and it's what people say about you when you are not in the room. You should take control over it and be consistent, clear, and authentic. Talk to your friends and ask them to be honest about you to give you insight into how you are perceived. Get on Twitter and Facebook. Keep your LinkedIn profile updated. And don't forget to pay attention to how you present yourself: your brand is in person as well.

Practice authentic leadership
Now. You need to have the skills to get the job. Volunteer for stretch assignments in your organizations. Lead from the middle. Get on committees, volunteer for projects, put it on your resume. Mentor somebody else: find someone who is a couple years back and work with them to share what you know.

Plan for balance
If you get burned out, none of this matters. At work, think about what made you fall in love with your job in the first place. Talk to clients, talk to beneficiaries of your work, keep positive correspondence and reread it when you are down, read your grant applications. Cut out unnecessary things like gossip sites, etc. Un-volunteer from things that no longer fulfill you.

It is said that "If you want to be successful, you have to hire a wife." (As a wife, I could not agree more. I get stuff done.) Delegate things at home to other places. Hire people to shovel your driveway, etc. Accept that you not superhuman. Remember that someone else is helping the fabulous people who seem to be doing everything. Just because you can do it, does not mean you have to.

Move on up. You have to be great at your job, but it's not enough. Craft a professional development plan. Figure out what you can do right now and achieve that. Write more about a topic that interests you.

Set high goals for yourself, and tell people that's your goal. What am I going to do five jobs from now?

The panel included Trista, Lars Leafblad, Will Delaney, Leah Lundquist, and Molly Sullivan. They had a few words to add and took questions from a packed house.

-If you don't have some idea of what you want to do, you can wind up just floating around and wasting time

-It's a mindset that most folks think of career searches as transactional. Challenge all of you to think of it as a continuous improvement issue.

-Learn to ask for forgiveness rather than permission. Try things. Write a blog, reach out to someone, organize an event, stay curious and see what happens.
The more competence you gain, the more experience you get, the more you learn.

-How do you network when you are new to a place?
Networking can seem daunting. How am I finding a way to engage people with whom I have commonalities? It takes energy to be the synapse that connects these circles. It takes showing up, raising hour hand, answering an email. Take the initiative to say yes.

-Necessary skills:
The more people you know, the more ideas you have access to. Organizations are looking for people who are well connected to people and ideas.
Hone your problem solving skills.

-Innovation is challenging in the nonprofit world. What are some tips or creative ways to look for ways to change without letting the ground work fall?

Set aside strategic thinking time. Put it in the calendar. Shut off the computer. Hash out issues and problems. Look back to when you were most strategic and think about what the habits were that you had then.

The bigger piece then is where is the manpower, where is the energy?

The decision to implement is the hardest part. If it is true innovation, it will create space and time. It will fix something. The start up will take a lot of time. Start with the things that will give you more space.

-Do I go with strengths or cast a wider net?

There's no wrong answer.
Don't get too myopic. Broadening is not a bad idea. Use what you have to make a transition. Look at your skills set and see where there is overlap with a new sector.

What gives you energy? That might be where you can make the most impact.

-What has become passé?

The idea that there's one way to do something. Grants, case management, etc.
Quarantine stereotypes about different perspectives like party, sector, etc. Be intentional about seeking out people who think differently than you.

-Google yourself. See what's there. If you are not on LinkedIn, you need to be. Keep it current. Make sure your digital search is current.

-Do I need to contact recruiters?
Doesn't hurt to send an introductory email with resume attached, but get face to face with people. Find out ways to meet people in the organization you want to join.

-What would you do with 100 million dollars?

-It's ok to say I would like to make an impact, I want to be a leader.

-People want to help you. They want to support you.

At the end, participants got a "To-do List":
Say yes, show up
Work on a professional development plan: If you are a Humphrey student, visit Career Services. Not a Humphrey student, sit down with someone in a different industry and give them your materials and a red pen.
Say yes and show up to the MCN conference on June 14
Connect with the panelists

General Resouces:

* Pollen
* Pollen on LinkedIn
* Online article/interview of Lars about the "Land of 10,000 Linkages"

Panelists' Contact Info:
Lars Leafblad:

* Personal LinkedIn
* Twitter

Trista Harris:

* Trista on Twitter
* LinkedIn
* Blog
* Book

Will Delaney:

* LinkedIn
* Contact info

-Karen McCauley

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