In order to attract the right kind of donors for you need to know how to connect in the most meaningful way that won’t let them forget you or what you had to say. You want to make a lasting impression.
I thought about a person I know who exudes creativity and connectivity….a most interesting woman, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Arbuckle Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. She specializes in strategy, innovation, and leadership for change. She has authored and co-authored 16 books, is listed as one of the 50 most powerful women in the world, and 50 most influential business thinkers in the world.
Now, in order to accomplish what she has you must know how to make connections. And she does….she is approachable, fun to talk to and down to earth with glowing enthusiasm that lets you know she is constantly observing and learning – no matter where and no matter when. Her eyes sparkle. She lets you know she is interested in hearing what you have to say. She connects long enough to know if you have something relevant to tell her. She is the consummate connector.
In Daisy Wademan’s book, Remember Who you Are, Life Stories That Inspire the Heart and Mind* Kanter talks about the “voice”, or as she describes it, a person’s ability to create a solid connection with people she or he may have just met and to communicate to a group that he/she has something worth hearing.
She maintains that listening well is a key component to creating a meaningful connection. “But wherever you are in your career right now- whether you find yourself presenting reports you have written to vice presidents, walking into conference rooms full of managers for meetings, hitting the road to raise money for your venture or your cause, or striding up to a podium to deliver a keynote address – what you do say needs to get through, to have a real and special impact. “The ability to shape a vision, define a direction, and rally people together to work with you to change the world demands leadership,” says Kanter.”
Kanter maintains that you can sweep aside the awkwardness and distractions that can accompany a first meeting, and get your audience to listen and focus by shining the spotlight right on substance. “But first you need to attract them to your effort. When ever you are at meeting or event, whether it is with ten people you know or ten thousand you don’t, be aware that you have a very short time to create the appropriate impression and shape the situation. Other people have assumptions you need to dispel, and your goal is to establish yourself and the bonds between you and the other people quickly and clearly,” explains Kanter.
You need to then explain your mission, your passion, bring together the people who will work with you to change the world. Explain everything in ways that people can relate to, that motivates them, and makes it easy to listen and then act.
Making good connections can mean overcoming different barriers that may be age related, geographic, and cultural or based on self interest. No matter what the nature of the barrier, it’s up to you to establish a common ground and develop a working relationship that portrays you as you wish to be seen.
Finally, Kanter reminds us not to change ourselves too much, to pander or to condescend to our audience, as they are intelligent and hungry for new ideas and ways to do things. Your charming self can take a cloudy day and turn it around. You can make a connection.
* This article is based on an article written by Rosabeth Moss Kanter in the book Remember Who you Are, Life Stories That Inspire the Heart and Mind by Daisy Wademan (2004, Harvard Business School Press)