Many people ask me how to get involved in international organizations like the UN, the World Bank and other large NGOs, and my answer is simple - networking!
Networking has become a buzzword in recent years and grown in popularity as an effective way of getting jobs in the West, but what countless people dont realize is that networking is an art; it's a process. Relationships must be cultivated and then sustained when one networks. The concept is simple, yet its practice is difficult.
The same can be said for those of us working in the development or social enterprise field: networking can be a boon! I read this fascinating article in the Times Online  (a British publication), which refers to the exponential growth social enterprises are witnessing in the UK. This should come as no surprise to us, yet it is, and it's quite exciting to see the numbers. The best part of the article for me, though, was the mention of a need for skills and powerful networks in these businesses. I couldnt have agreed more.
All too often, the greatest ideas are born on paper - and die on that same piece of paper - never to see the light of day, since there is no emphasis on the perfection of an idea. This step should be given tremendous importance, since social enterprises are at most risk of collapsing because they dont have the same support systems that other corporations do. But imagine how different the situation would be, if social enterprises were just as energetic and vivacious as those large corporations that disregard the impact our organizations can have on the planet's well-being, and still manage to make profits. We have much to learn from our counterparts in these large, robust organizations.
So, if there's one piece of advice I can give our potential applicants to this year's Marketplace, it is to network as much as possible. Get the word out about your idea and build meaningful, long-lasting relationships that will guide you further in your endeavors. Your path will still not be hurdle-free, but it will be considerably smoother.