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No strings attached | Consulting 101

main.jpgIf someone told me when I graduated college three years ago that I’d be working as a nonprofit consultant, my response would have been: Me!?! A consultant? Don’t you have to be an expert to do that?

I’m no expert. I am, however, fortunate to have come into the nonprofit sector at a time when a less-than-desirable economy forced me to get creative with my career path.

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Just Ask.

So you made it through the first month of the New Year! How are those professional goals of yours going? Over the course of January, I’ve felt a new goal emerging—one that seems so simple on the surface yet has been really challenging to put into practice. 

I’m trying to ask more questions.

Easy enough if I was just letting myself throw out more of the typical: “How’s it going?” “How about all this snow?” No, I’m trying to find fresh questions—questions that have the power to move myself and those around me beyond chit chat or same-old, same-old to action in a new way.

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What To Do When Your To-Do List Gets You Down

By Virginia Brown
Follow me on Twitter: @3manypuppies

I started a new job recently and absolutely love it. I’m so excited to bring my specialized knowledge to a big, successful program to see how I can make it even better than it already is.

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The Café is Open: The value of receiving peer feedback

main.jpgEvery sector is unique. Each has its own set of insider lingo and modus operandi that may seem mysterious to an outsider. The nonprofit sector is no different, which is why networking in a room of new people that have little to no familiarity with the sector can often times turn into a cemetery of lost opportunities.

Here’s the usual scenario: I strike up a conversation with someone and run through the normal course of getting-to-know you questions. And somewhere in the midst of the interrogation comes the “So, what do you do” question. I test the waters by casually responding that I work for a local nonprofit. At which point—about 85% of the time—I can see my potential peer and network slowly begin to lose interest. One last Minnesota nice rescue attempt is made with the typical follow-up, “What do you do at your nonprofit?” And by the time I get to the word “and” in Office Manager and Membership Coordinator, they’ve lost all interest. And I’ve lost my chance to potentially bounce ideas and get advice on job-related issues.

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The 4-step program for successfully networking as an introvert

Co-written by Jamie Millard and Chris Oien

main.jpgNetworking is important. You know that, and we know that. It’s pretty much a given. But what do you do if just the thought of networking makes you want to crawl into a hole? We’ve both been there, because we are two of the roughly 25% of people who are introverts. 

When it came time for each of us to go to our first YNPN networking event, we debated whether or not to go, and eventually skipped out—leaving a sick feeling in our stomachs. We later did get involved with YNPN; and when we met each other, we realized we had both bailed on the same event. While it had been a lonely experience, neither of us was alone in it, and knowing that was a huge relief. 

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Who’s got the power? You do.

by Adaobi Okolue
follow me on Twitter: aokolue

Power. When we think of it, we often associate it with individuals who have the ability to exert it over others: Executive directors, presidents, board of directors, etc. We seldom believe that we—in the early-mid or even infancy stages of our careers—have the ability to turn the wheels of an organization with the same might as an executive director.

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Resolutions are so passé.

I am not Miss Cleo, but I can provide you one painstaking revelation about your life last year with almost 100 percent accuracy, minus the exorbitant 1-800 charges. Ready: There is nothing you can do to change it. Absolutely nothing. So, there is no need to fret or dwell over the reviews of your internal critics. Instead, resolve to make your first footsteps into 2011 with some sort of direction. I’m not force-feeding you the resolutions lecture. I’m talking about goal-setting.

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Are you nearing your personal fiscal cliff?

main.jpgIf you’re like me, you probably squirmed uncomfortably through this whole “fiscal cliff” nonsense. While the president and Congress have finally come up with a few compromises that get us away from the cliff (nothing like kicking the can down the road!), the long delay and use of “head-in-the-sand, if-we-ignore-it-maybe-it-will-go-away” tactics might have been an uncomfortable reminder that you’re tipping near the edge of your own fiscal cliff.

Now that it’s 2013, it’s a great time to get your financial house in order. Here are some tips to help you back away from the precipice:

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Breaking-up is hard to do

by Min Y. Chong
follow me on Twitter: @minychong

As nonprofit employees, our jobs aren’t just where we spend our days to make money and keep occupied. Our jobs are where we invest our time, energy, and passion. Our organizations aren’t just buildings and people that we spend the hours of 9 to 5 with. They are the communities for our causes and our constant collaborators. We choose to work in this sector to satisfy our hearts, our hopes, and our sense of justice. Our jobs are extremely personal and we feel strongly tied to them. As young nonprofit professionals, the bond is even more involved. These are our first organizations, mentors, causes, and often, the first places where we made change and witnessed the good the sector produces.

All of which is precisely what makes even the thought of leaving feel so terrible. Our coworkers and organizations have invested their extremely hard-earned and limited resources in us. They need and count on us to be there. But little by little, we outgrow our positions and start to need more. Even at our worst, our least inspired, satisfied, and driven, we still add value to our organizations. But is this how we best serve our missions or ourselves?

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3 Reasons Why You Should Have A Personal Website

Yes, “personal branding” seems like an overused, cliché buzzword being exploited in every workshop or conference session. Nevertheless, does personal branding actually matter? Yes. As young professionals, it matters even more. Personal branding defines and sets the pace of your career path early on.

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