How Long to Hold a Lead

I wrote earlier this week about “What’s a Lead” and today I’m going to talk about responding to these leads. When you come back from an event you attended, what do you do with your leads? Does it take months before any of these people ever hear from you again?

I’ve found that people have very short-term memory when you first meet them. There are so many nonprofits, so many networking events, and so many people to meet. If you wait too long, people start to forget who you are. I try to send an email within a day of meeting someone new. That way they still remember who I am, and it gives us another chance to reconnect. I often check to see if they are on LinkedIn and send them a connection invitation with my nice to meet you email.

Once you’ve emailed them, think about ways that you can plug them in. Maybe it’s an invitation to an upcoming event or inviting them on a tour. The important thing is that you make an initial connection after you’ve met.


One Response to How Long to Hold a Lead

  1. Leanne says:

    One of the things I do in addition to the follow up you mention is to send them a hand written thank you card, touching on a point we shared in conversation or a common interest. I usually do this first and then, as time goes on, try and look for meaningful ways to connect them with my organization even further, making sure to build upon the things I wrote to them about in the first thank you note.

    Also, depending on their receptivity, I’ll send article clippings- actual, physical clippings via snail mail-about something they shared with me (their love of trains and the stock market would be a clue for me to mention Warren Buffett’s latest move, for example).

    These little “touches” let them know that I am connecting not only with their ability to help my organization or their interest in partnering with me, but it indicates a sincere (and it MUST be sincere, btw!) desire to show them that I see and value them for who they are as an individual, not just a dollar sign.

    I’ve done this before, even when others thought it was pointless and seen engagement and contributions increase substantially. We’re in the relationship business, when all is said and done, and while I can’t have truly meaningful interactions with every volunteer or donor, I can look at them holistically and step outside of the development/fundraising box as often as possible to let them know they matter to my organization as much as the people my organization serves.

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