Network = Knowledge
As a small shop leader you have many hats to wear and your entrepreneurial spirit will guide most of your decision-making. But, there will be strategy junctures or other complex donor issues that will arise that fall outside your prior experience. Some of the most valuable information you will receive will be through your network of fundraising, marketing, and management professionals.
Start with who you know. Look through your LinkedIn contacts for development or marketing professionals in larger organizations in your city that have a lot of people in the office. The size of the larger organization removes any threat of competition, and most development directors are happy to share insight. Treat them to coffee or lunch. If this person cannot help with your issue, ask who can. I have found that seasoned professionals in larger organizations are generous with their time and expertise if you are gracious, use their information wisely, and don’t overstay your welcome.
Join a professional group. The Association of Fundraising Professionals has free webinars, low-cost events, networking opportunities, and a directory of local members. If you are working at a school, contact the accrediting body to which your school belongs. There you will find a list of schools within your network and the professional development events that are coordinated by the association.
Facebook groups. There are several closed Facebook groups for small shop people looking for information and affirmation. These boards have moderators, are supportive, and are a useful resource. If you are lucky, you will find a kindred spirit in your city.
Authors. There are some excellent books on fundraising, branding initiatives, and leadership. This publisher carries titles you should have in your library. Contact an author directly to clarify something in the text that might be a sticking point for you. Most will be responsive and happy to answer a brief question. The author's insight and the fact that you have communicated with her directly will carry weight with your organization's leadership when pitching a new strategy.
The larger your pool of contacts and resources, the more you will be able to advance the mission of your organization and in turn, advance your career.