Network = Knowledge
Congratulations, you have landed your first job as a development leader! You have enough know-how to have gotten the job, and that knowledge will carry you for some time. 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 with many people in the office. The size of the larger organization removes any threat of competition, and most development professionals are happy to share insight. Treat them to coffee or lunch. If this person cannot help with your issue, ask who can. Seasoned professionals in larger organizations can be 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.