What can we provide each other this season?
Yesterday I had the opportunity to participate in a unique event sponsored by the Community Foundation of Utah - a speed mentoring session.
For two hours a variety on non-profits met with entrepreneurs to discuss their needs in a specific area - networking, strategy, fund raising, etc. I was at the marketing table and talked to groups ranging from community gardens to art centers to national volunteer organizations about how better to position themselves in the minds of constituents.
The idea for the event grew out of the notions that a) entrepreneurs and non-profits have a lot in common, i.e. they're always bootstrapping something, b) non-profits need the experiences, connections and insights that entrepreneurs have and c) entrepreneurs as a group are extremely philanthropic by nature. So adapting the structure of speed dating and speed pitching 50+ non-profits met with 50+ entrepreneurs in a series of 7 minute sessions. This was followed by a panel discussion on corporate social responsibility.
In order to make this successful, and by all accounts both groups were more than pleased - they were satisfied and happy, the non-profits were individually coached ahead of time on preparing their pitch. They knew what to say and ask their questions. As mentors we were given a brief abstract on what each organization did and what their need was. It was amazing how much 'work' could be accomplished in those 7 minutes.
As professionals we're usually busy looking for new clients or serving our existing ones. As an employee of an ad agency most of these groups would have never crossed my path because our market is different than where they sit today (euphemism "for they couldn't afford our services.")
The chance to share some thoughts, ask some questions, and hopefully provide some guidance with those who need it most was personally very satisfying. Certainly a better professional gift than the office 'white elephant.' And all it cost me was a morning.
To Fraser Nelson and all the rest that put on this wonderful event - I thank you.