Are you taking notes?

It’s always a win during in-person meetings when our supporters and prospects share about their families, work, interests, passions, and other colors that shape their story.  As development professionals, hopefully we have taken some time to craft and consider good questions to get folks talking when we have the opportunity to connect for coffee, a meal, or a tour.  Establishing personal trust and rapport can be a significant factor in gaining favor for the cause and agency we represent, and can at times also play a significant role in a positive giving decision.

So, if things are going well, we are asking questions, and the folks we have the privilege of talking with are responding in detail.  Then, panic can ensue as we realize that there is no way we are going to remember all of the key things they are saying like how they heard about our agency for the first time, what volunteers they know, how long they’ve been at their job, how many kids they have, what they are most excited about, where they go to church, and things of that nature.  ARGH!  I should have been taking NOTES!

Enter the art of subtle but meaningful note taking.  The reality is the no matter how highly we prioritize each supporter or prospect meeting, because we connect with so many folks, we just can’t keep it all in our brains.  It’s imperative that we briefly jot down important takeaways that will serve as anchors for ongoing conversations, and bolster the personal data being entered into our donor databases.  So, to keep it from feeling weird, here are a few easy tips on the subtle art of note taking:

  1. Do you best to be the first to the meeting, and have your notebook open and pen ready.  Eliminates the weirdness of reaching into your bag for it when your folks arrive.
  2. Ask permission.  ‘Hey I’m just gonna jot a few notes as things come to mind, that ok?’  Again, all about establishing trust.
  3. Use a small notebook, its just tidier and less of a distraction.  Moleskines are great.
  4. Write thoughts and takeaways briefly, enough words to trigger the recall when you return to them, ensuring that you can expand when entering that information into your database later.
  5. Try to maintain eye contact when writing, this helps keep the momentum going.
  6. If you are not taking notes – start!

Other tips on the art of note taking?  Join the conversations at @infosmallchange #ascblog.

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