1) Have more fun, turns out your mom doesn’t care!
2) Take Track more seriously, you are really good at it.
3) Tell your parents how awesome they are
4) Don’t write that letter to your mom, about how you think you were adopted. You aren’t get over yourself. . .
What would you say?
This is a follow up to How to get an Informational Interview, read this first if you haven’t already. Congrats, so you got a coffee date on the calendar with someone you really admire. Now what? Here are some tips to help you prepare for and have a successful meeting. The point is not for you to lavish them with praise or to hear their “story”, your goal is to ask them something, even if its as small as asking for another meeting.
Before the Meeting:
- Send an Invite- My dear friend Dorthea (a real life princess), was the first person to let me know about this tip. She schedules everything and she loves to send the invite first. a) it helps confirm/make sure that the meeting is going happening and that no one forgets about it and b) it gives you the opportunity to put in the agenda/your main ask in the calendar invite. (we will talk about why you do this in a sec). She has casually asked me to meet up for coffee and then when I get the invite, she has often to her credit, slipped in info about her latest fundraiser or project, so that I know whats up before I get to the meeting! Clever girl.
- Confirm the Meeting - They day before it is always great to confirm the meeting. Even if they have accepted your invite. Sometimes I will include an article that I think they would be interested or a link to an event, just to show that I am not going into this meeting cold and that I know a little bit about them and what are intersted in.
During the Meeting:
- The Meeting Flow: This is the most important part to the whole informational meeting. You set the meeting, you own the agenda. Hopefully, you have alluded to what you want to talk about prior to the meeting, so now you can casually remind the other party about your objective. Which leads me to the next point.
- Always Ask for Something and Ask It Up Front: Don’t let the other person guess why you are meeting. It is not to your benefit to chit chat for 40 minutes about bs. Most people want to be helpful, help them be helpful to you by asking for help. Even if you don’t really need help, ask for help anyway, just to see if they are indeed, willing to help you and the quality of that help.
- Caveat 1: Don’t drop big bombs, like “I want to raise a million dollars from you” in the first 5 minutes. But do say” I am looking to fundraise and I would like your support” or ” I am fundraising and I would like to figure out how to get you involved”. Think about ways you can lay the foundation for your “ask” in a bite size portion. Bigger “asks” take time and trust to fulfill, instead think of reasonable “asks” that can ladder up to what you want.
- Caveat 2: Be clear and to the point. And try to get a yes or no commitment. Put your salesman hat on and be a closer. The goal here is to see if the person is interested. They might not have the answer for you immediately, but you want to at least walk a way from the meeting knowing how vested they are in you.
- Caveat 3: Do your research. Make sure you asking for help from someone who can help you. If you raising money for cancer research, do the pre work of understanding if “Cancer research” is in their wheelhouse of causes.
After the Meeting:
Ending the meeting: It is a good idea to ask, how you can be helpful to them. No matter if you think you have nothing to offer. Asking the question alone, will win you brownie points. This is also a good seque into announcing any next steps/recap the meeting. A template- “This was a great meeting, I learned so much about X, I am going to follow up with you about Y, in the next few days”.
Followup: This is where most people fall short. Send a follow up note, immediately after the meeting, thank them for their time and gently remind them of any next steps. Depending on if it would be appreciated, send a thank you card. And then follow up, check in, follow up, over the next few weeks/months. What you don’t want, is for the relationship to go stale.
Have any other tips? Share them below in the comments.
“He chose money over power. In this town, a mistake nearly everyone makes. Money is the mansion in Sarasota that starts falling apartment after 10 years. Power is the old stone building that stands for centuries. I cannot respect someone who doesn’t see the difference.” Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey), HOUSE OF CARDS
I admit I am a bit late to the game on watching House of Cards, but once I committed I think I watched all of the episodes in a 48 hour period. This quote about power stood out as one of the best quotes of the show. I think of Power, as influence, as in you have the ability to get things done either from your own resources or by using your influence over others to leverage theirs. Money is important. Heck it is very important. But influence, is the ability to get things done. Money + Influence = can be dangrously awesome because of what you can get done. Influence – Money = can still let you accomplish great things, this is the stuff legends is made of. Money – Influence = can let you direct a movie without an audience or fight a war without soldiers. Enuf, said.
The quest for power is often seen in a negative light, but I would challenge that assertion. No matter what realm you operate in, we all want influence. We want to be able to raise money for our charities, produce that documentary, get a bill passed, heck, get our kids to eat their vegetables. Don’t be afraid of your power and influence.
Recently, I did a quick power audit.
- Work – What was my ability to push my projects through my organization. Did I have any influence on getting them expedited or green lighted?
- Community – Can I bring people together for the causes I am interested in? A step further could I raise money from my communities?
- Friends – Did people respect me? Come to me with important matters? Was I someone they consulted with?
Okay, so I know what you are thinking and now you want to know, how to get more influence, which I promise to do a deep dive post on. But for now here are some of my favorite tenets as gleamed from this great book the 48 Rules of Power.
Be the expert: Know something that others don’t. In this instance, its better to have specialized knowledge than broad knowledge
Be part of a Mafia: Join organizations, get mentors, and network with people who have influence. Support them and make sure they support you.
Get a Board of Directors: Find people with more influence, or different spheres of influence invest in you as a person. They can pull strings that you will be unable to. Throughout history, the greats have come up through the help of people more powerful. Align carefully.
Know what People want - Sometimes, just knowing what motives people is half the battle. Giving and sometimes NOT giving them what they want can help your cause, but only when you know that that “thing” is.
Be Known for Something: Write a blog, get on local TV, support a specific charity, start a book club on some topic. Whatever it is, let it be known what your projects are. Remember people have short memories, find ways to remind people of what you are working on.
Create Dependency: Creating dependency does not have to be some big thing, if all you are known for is having the key to the bathroom at your desk, you still have more access and power than Jill Schmoe. No matter how small, create value and be very generous.
Be Generous: At the end of the day, we are not trying to be dictators of small countries (hopefully). Be generous in helping others and sharing what you know with others. Karma, it is a real thing.
Be Graceful: This is often a matter of style. But people tend to respect people whose talents look effortless. Don’t complain or share how freaking hard you are working. Keep all the negative stuff behind the curtain.
Sidebar – The book “48 Laws of Power” is totally Machiavellian, and reading it will make you grow hair on your chest and make you want to go to invade a small country, but if you use a discerning eye, some of the tenets can apply, say, to your everyday PTA group. It is worth a read, and if you are super lazy, just scan the outline.
I just finished reading this great article on the psychology behind colors and how companies can use color to illicit a certain action from consumers/users. Based on tons of empirical data, this research shows that humans associate certain traits with a particular color. The article is a great quick read about how different colors can impact conversions rates on websites, brand personality, and on gender color preferences. Sidenote: To show off the power of color choice imagine two identical webpages with the same content/layout, one with a green checkout button and one with a red checkout button. The webpage with a red button had a 21% increase in sales. Crazy!
On a side note, one of my horrible pick up lines at bars, is to tell men that I read Auras. (Ugh, I know so corny). It turns out to be a great conversation starter, as people love to hear about what other people think of them. After reading this article, I wonder if you could use the same approach that a company takes to choosing colors for their logo in choosing a color for your personal brand. And B=by personal brand I mean this both literally and figuratively.
By literally, I mean are there certain colors that you should utilize on your marketing materials, your business cards, even in the clothes that you wear, that subconsciously inform other people about what you stand for? And figuratively, I wonder if just the act of picking a color can help crystallize your personal brand. Personally, I always gravitate to orange. I wear a lot of orange and use a lot of orange in my presentation materials. Now knowing what orange symbolizes I can agree that this is the feedback I have gotten from people about my love of orange. While choosing a color is not going to make you brand (and by brand please know this includes both individuals and companies) that your color choices are part of your story. And if you don’t buy into color branding for yourself, at least ponder how to play with color whenever you are working on your next website, presentation, or other visual piece. Have any thoughts about this, drop a line below!
So one of my goals this year was to learn about making videos and yesterday I took the first step to making that goal a reality. Caveat: Next time I swear I will look at the camera. I promise!
The Key Takeaways:
1) Be honest with yourself, what fears are holding you back?
2) Are you constantly testing and stretching yourself, so that you learn, grow and thrive?
3) What skills or things do you need to learn to help you get over the hump?
If you have any feedback for me, please let me know in the comments. Additionally if you have a story to share let me know below as well!