The Value of Relationships

This morning I spent an hour on the phone with another nonprofit consultant. When we wound up the call, I told him I felt like a pate de fois gras duck, only grateful for all that nurturing, as opposed to those poor ducks. This consultant is someone I met a few years back, and because we’ve stayed in touch, he was kind enough to give me an entire graduate level course in what he’s learned about nonprofit consulting. And no matter how much experience you have, no matter what wise age you’ve achieved, there is always more to learn. He also sent me his book – and after I’ve read it, I’ll list it on my site as a resource.

I feel certain there will be opportunities that come up, that I will refer to this consultant, because he has more expertise in some areas than I. There may be opportunities we tackle together, because we both bring something to the party. And he mentioned that he never takes an interim executive role, and is happy to pass these opportunities to me. I am courting a network of consultants, and networking with them frequently, because there are so many ways we can help one another.

I am a people person. This may have something to do with growing up with 11 brothers and sisters. I really enjoy meeting people, finding out what matters to them, and what they’ve been doing with their lives. I enjoy staying in touch with them. And one of the great advantages of social media, is that I’ve resurrected a plethora of relationships with folks from my school days, people I haven’t heard from in decades.

Eons ago, my mother said, ‘If you want to be interesting to others – be interested.’ I think the key to maintaining and cultivating relationships, is listening. In nonprofit consulting, listening is the first component of a successful engagement – because I need to find out how the board and the executive team see the ground they are standing on, and how they envision the future, and the obstacles and challenges and opportunities. In order to assess what an organization might need, and how I might help, I need to ask a good many questions, and listen to the answers, without developing a point of view, until I have enough information.

I think this is what works in all relationships. If I listen to you talk about your history, your hopes, your dreams, your obstacles, I can move to where you are standing, and then we can move somewhere together, consider the options, make choices, from a place of alignment.

I don’t think there is anything I value more than my family and my friends. I am so grateful that this network of friends is growing, through the networking I am constantly doing to build my consulting business. It’s a terrific excuse to catch up with old friends, find up what they are up to, and whether there’s a way I can be of help.

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