No doubt you and your colleagues are making lots of visits at this time of year. Here are 13 tips for a good visit I’ve learned along the way:
Never be late.
If you have to wait for the person you are meeting, do not sit down. Stay standing. If you sit, when the person you are meeting enters the room, he or she will be looking down at you. This is not the way you want to begin.
Your demeanor should project quiet confidence. Not cockiness. Quiet confidence.
Remember to do these four things, all at the same time, when greeting your donor or prospective donor; look him or her square in the eye, smile, give a business handshake and say their name because the most appealing sound to the human ear is the sound of a person’s own name.
Have your business card ready to offer, not in a wallet or purse where you have to fumble for it.
As best you can during your visit, try to sit in such a way that your line of sight will not be looking up at the person you are visiting. (See #2.)
Have an “icebreaker” or two ready to begin the conversation on a relaxed note. Asking about children or grandchildren is a pretty good bet.
If you are asking for a gift, once you have made the ask, shut up and give the other person a chance to respond. If you’ve made asks before you know this is far more difficult to do than it would seem.
An effective visit can be two hours in length. It can also be five minutes in length.
The most complimentary thing a person can think about you after your visit is, “S/he is genuinely enthusiastic about that organization and what it does.”
Listen more, talk less.
Before you leave the parking lot, jot down the salient points of the visit for your call report. If you wait until you get back to the office or, heaven forbid, until the next day, you’ll undoubtedly forget something important.
And finally, prepare your thank you note or email the very first thing when you get back to the office. Attend to any action steps from the visit, right then. You would be amazed how easy it is to put those follow up steps to the side, and how embarrassing it can be to remember three weeks later that they haven’t been done.