Look At Me

In Elmore Leonard’s Get Shorty, loan shark Chili Palmer is always telling his “clients” to “look at me.”  It’s advice fundraisers would do well to follow, especially when they are talking to donors.

Not too long ago, a client asked me to meet with her development associate.  This person seemed to be doing a good job, but board members complained about her.  After 15 minutes, I knew why.  She never, ever looked at me. Her eyes were everywhere, mostly looking in the opposite direction of where I sat.

It was quite disconcerting.

Was I boring her?  Was there something more important on her mind?  Did I have something awful stuck in my teeth and she couldn’t bear to look at me?  Whatever it was, it did not make me feel warm and fuzzy toward her.  If I was a prospect, I would also not be feeling good about her organization.

There are cultures where people are taught it is rude to look directly at someone, and there are people who for a variety of reasons are incapable of looking directly at someone.  There are times when looking away indicates that you are thinking. But these aside, looking at someone while you are engaged in conversation—especially a conversation about giving—signals that the conversation and the person you are speaking with are important.  Looking elsewhere indicates the opposite.

Being seen is impactful. Not being looked at is irritating.

I want my prospects to feel that they have power, that they are important.  I want them to see me seeing them. And to do that, I have to look at them.

Janet Levine helps her clients to see and be seen so that their fundraising capacity increases.  Learn more at www.janetlevineconsulting.com.  While there, sign up for the newsletter and contact Janet for a free, 30-minute consultation.  

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About janetlevineconsulting

For over 20 years, Janet Levine has worked for and with nonprofit and educational organizations, helping to grow their advancement programs. Her consulting company, Janet Levine Consulting, serves a wide range of organizations from small, all-volunteer agencies to major national organizations. She regularly teaches courses in non-profit management, fundraising and grant development, both face-to-face and online at http://courses.lmlearningstation.com/. In addition to her nonprofit work, Janet brings years of experience as a business and sales manager in the for-profit sector. She has an MBA from the Graziadio School of Business at Pepperdine University.
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