Tiplet: Navigating your first prospect meeting

Your first in-person meeting with a prospective donor can feel a little intimidating. "What will we talk about?" "How will I make the best use of his/her time?" Fear not: these are common questions!

Today's tiplet offers some concrete approaches to structuring your first meeting with a prospect.

1. Nail your elevator speech. Understand the mission and goals of your organization--and be able to explain them cold. I'm not suggesting that you sound over-rehearsed; rather, you should prepare so that conveying your nonprofit's work becomes second nature. Grab coffee with a coworker and talk shop. Tell your partner/friend/aunt/hairdresser about the org's efforts. Practice makes perfect!

2. Understand the prospect's interests. After all, these precious meetings should focus largely on the prospect. Spend most of the time listening to whatever he or she would like to share about philanthropy, career, and personal life. The more you learn, the more you'll be able to customize the content, size and timing of the eventual solicitation.

3. Close with an action step. Never leave a meeting without deciding on a concrete next step, no matter how small. The step should be clearly defined and have a specific deadline if possible. E.g., "I'll email you by next Tuesday with the web links I mentioned." "I am seeing our Executive Director on August 1st and will see what dates she has available for a visit with you." Action steps are productive, and give you a worthy reason to reconnect with the prospect.

Go get 'em!

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