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PEAK Grantmaking

Networking 101 at PEAK2019

By Katrin Blucker Ludwig

PEAK2019 is an opportunity to meet new people, and you never know where that can lead.

Just before a session starts is a great opportunity. It’s easy to say, “What brings you to this session?” Or, “how does this tie into your work?” When you’re waiting for a session to start and you notice that the person beside you is, from Oklahoma and you’re from Oklahoma, or you both have “I Color Outside the Lines” ribbons on your name badge, you’ve found a kindred spirit. So, reach out.

For example, at my second PEAK Grantmaking conference, I was sitting next to Shonda Barnett from Dallas Women’s Foundation. We had a short conversation about Texas, and later that year, she came to a chapter meeting. I encouraged her to join the Southwest Chapter leadership team. She did, as program chair. She then agreed to present a session with me at PEAK’s next annual conference. Now, she is the chapter co-chair.

You never know where a conversation will take you.

Through your attendance at the conference, you naturally start to build cross-state and cross-country relationships. I know people now across the nation. So, I can reach out and say, “I noticed you’re working on trauma-informed care.” Or “you just redid your strategic grantmaking plan. How did you do that?”

For me, one of the factors in going to PEAK Grantmaking’s conference is networking. I always learn something. Of course, you learn from the sessions and plenaries. You also .

Each of us has a wealth of experiences and approaches to share, as do the grantmaking organizations where we work. By starting to talk about a challenge or a success, you open up a conversation for peer learning. And you can easily build on that.

It can take more effort, if you’re not naturally gregarious. Try the morning walk, morning yoga, and the opening reception to find a conference pal right away. Or join a dine-around. Building friendships, partnerships, and networks is about finding commonality and remembering that people do want to meet each other.

Make it your goal to meet at least one new person at this year’s conference and engage them in conversation.

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive” – Anais Nin

Katrin Blucker Ludwig, community grants manager at Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, is a co-chair of PEAK2019, PEAK Grantmaking’s 14th annual conference.