How to Network Though Your Museum Membership

Financial advisors, accountants and other financial professionals often give back to the community in many ways. Sometimes they volunteer, other times they write checks and attend events. Let us look at ten ways you can make business connections through your museum membership.

1. Allow yourself to be cultivated. Nonprofits have development departments. It sounds nicer than fundraising. They assume people in your profession are rich or will be someday. Cultivation involves getting invited to exclusive events, often populated by business leaders they are also getting to know better.

Strategy: Do not join at a higher level with the logic you will meet wealthier people. Start at the basic membership entry level. Let them “trade you up” to a higher membership level year after year. Enjoy the parties, cultivation and attention along the way.

2. Do they have business memberships? Let us suppose you are looking for businesses as clients. Ideally you want to connect with business owners on a personal level. Many cultural institutions have their version of an internal chamber of commerce. They do events specifically for business owners.

Strategy: Join at this level, in the name of your business. Attend the events, making friends with business owning individuals.

3. Attend the free events. Membership comes with certain basic benefits. One is the member preview reception of various exhibitions. These are often sponsored by a couple of individuals or businesses.

Strategy: These will be crowded events. There is often free food and drink. The individuals who are sponsors are often in attendance. This gives you an opportunity to meet them. There is a saying in the nonprofit word: “You can never thank people enough.” This gets you close to them. Who is going to be offended by a compliment?

4. Move up to the highest annual giving category. The higher the tier, the more exclusive the events. If this costs $1,000 or more, find out if your firm’s matching gift program allows you to contribute half, they match it and you get into that donor category.

Strategy: Getting into this higher tier means you are invited to events that are more exclusive.

5. Make friends with the membership and development directors. The people in these roles know everyone. If you want introductions, there are the people who can make this happen.

Strategy: These connections are also your conduit to the Executive Director, the person who runs the show. They hear good things about you, creating the rationale for them to seek you out instead of you seeking them out.

6. Connect their fundraisers with your firm’s charitable foundation. Your firm probably gives money to charity. They do it for the right reasons, plus it is good for business. You can look over the foundation’s annual report and see the types of institutions they support.

Strategy: They have grant writers on staff or available who can make the approach. The will remember you made the initial connection.

7. Get onto the PR person’s radar. Local newspapers have some version of “society” or local interest sections. These often feature photos from local events. Nonprofits are popular. This is the domain of the Public Relations Director.

Strategy: Dress well. Attend every event you can. When the newspaper photographer shows up, they help setup groups for pictures. With some luck, you should get your picture in the paper. Clients will be impressed.

8. Volunteer to serve on a committee. Depending on the size of the institution, there are usually roles for volunteers. If you know about accounting, investments or are good at raising money, they should be able to find a slot for you.

Strategy: This raises your visibility. The staff knows who you are. You meet more volunteers on the committee.

9. Help raise funds or bring in new members. Many people are terrified of asking people for money or cold calling. For agents and advisors, it’s an easier task. Someone else might put off the project or make excuses. A financial professional like yourself will put together a script, knock out those calls and write up a report. This will get attention from the higher ups.

Strategy: Put your “asking for the order” prowess to the test. Let the staff know who you have called. When they see results, you should be in great demand.

10. Hold an event on the museum’s property. Maybe your firm finds the money to sponsor an exhibition. Perhaps you rent out space for a public seminar. You get the prestige of the location.

Strategy: If you sponsor an exhibition, you will likely be publicly thanked and asked to speak at the member preview. You can organize a client event to see the exhibition at a time the museum is closed to the public.

11. Attend the annual gala. Most nonprofits have a major event. Everyone dresses up. Tickets are expensive. Dignitaries attend. There is often a preparty for major donors and dignitaries.

Strategy: You will learn which people ibn the community “do the circuit” of these events. You will see them again and again at other events.

Your museum membership should never be an expense where you question it’s validity. It should be a key to open the door of a world you have long wanted to enter.

Related: How to Position Client Confidentiality as a Benefit