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Fast Changes - Fierce Challenges

Corporations Sharing Expertise to Help Non-Profits Survive and Thrive


Andrea Nierenberg
President, The Nierenberg Group

“The Art of Networking”
Follow-Up Questions

What is the best way to follow up with someone you’ve met for the first time?

Always ask them their 'preferred' method of communication.
It is also a good idea to stand out by sending a personal note.

How do you move a casual business relationship “to the next level,” from acquaintance to colleague?

Over time, as you get to know the person, find ways to stay on their radar screen. Do your homework to learn more about them. This will give you a chance to initiate more frequent contact. Give before ever thinking of getting anything. Understand their interests and how you can be of help to them first. Invite them out and get to know them.

In this age in which the Internet has created a sense of informality, can you talk a little bit about e-mail etiquette?

Manners and being professional are still keys to success, and people notice them. When you email someone be brief and to the point. Spell correctly and make your e-mail easy for the recipient to read and understand. Keep it professional. Remember it is business and part of your professional presentation on print. Also, read your email before you send it. What is your 'tone'? Read and 'listen' to it in the eyes and ears of the recipient. Always respond to people who ask for a reply. It is common courtesy.

Is it still appropriate to sent out personally written notes? If so, do you know of any program that makes creating a data base or the printing of cards easy to do?

I am still a huge believer in the personal handwritten note and do them everyday. I also now use an amazing system called Send Out Cards. In my estimation it is the best total relationship management tool. It allows you to load your database and remember special dates. It is like having a 24/7 discounted greeting card store on your desktop--combining high tech and high touch.   The cards and notes you type on line are received via US mail—stuffed and stamped. There is more information about this system on my website,

Just like “business casual dress,” business interactions can take on too personal a tone today. How personal is too personal and can you give some advice on setting boundaries?

Be a professional at all times. Take a cue from your client or contact. Never be too close or personal. If in doubt--leave it out.

Can you offer some advice on dealing with “difficult people?

Sometimes a person seems difficult because they don't communicate the way we do. We can all improve the way we communicate.  With someone 'difficult'--listen, ask open ended questions, let them often feel like they are 'winning the battle' and in the end result you will have truly 'won the war.'

Being a non-profit what is appropriate to provide to corporate donor as a holiday gift?

Sometimes a lovely, heartfelt thank you note is most appropriate and all you need to do. Use the holidays as another way of staying on their radar and letting them know you appreciate them. You can also use a plaque, picture or a symbol of some sort. Just remember, less is still more.

Board members and volunteers, particularly those who assist with galas and fundraising events, can be very demanding, particularly of our office staff. Can you offer some advice on how on to “ratchet the tension down” when things get stressful?

Often Board members are unaware of everything that goes putting on this kind of event and the toll it takes on the staff. Have someone explain the procedure and protocol. Host a brief training so everyone knows everyone’s roles.  It all needs to be done with kindness and carefully since the volunteers are also often the donors to your organization.

Board members are critical to the success of our agencies. What are some ways to engage them and get them to be advocates for our cause?

As with any relationship, start with cultivation. Invite them out and learn about them. Do your homework to learn about them, their interests and passions. Find creative ways to stay on their radar. Use the same skills you would to build a friendship.

In your presentation, you talked a lot about listening skills. Can you repeat some tips on remembering people’s names?

Remembering someone's name goes back to really listening. Repeat their name back 2 times in the conversation right when you meet and throughout. Dale Carnegie always said using a person's name as you address them is the sweetest sound to them.  Form an association--some way that you will remember that person and their name. Carry pen and paper and write their name as they tell you. No matter how sharp we are--our minds are still paler than the weakest ink.

What is a gracious way to ask a person his/her name if you’ve forgotten it even if you have met them several times without offending them?

I will always first reintroduce myself and wait. If the person doesn’t do the same, I will just say "Please forgive me, tell me your name again'' and then move on.

What is the best way to avoid seeming “pushy” when you are at a networking event but still meet the people you want to get to know and follow up with them?

Being pushy or too aggressive is the ultimate turnoff. Be gracious. Ask open ended, high gain questions. Move on after talking with them for a few minutes, and don't try to sell anything. Just be patient and ask their preferred method of communication to follow up.

What is the best way to approach someone after you have met them and you want to gain their monetary support for an event/gala?  Is there a best way? Can you offer some advice on cultivating the relationship?

If we are too pushy, they will run.  You must build the relationship first. People give or buy into something due to their motives, hot buttons and time frame--not ours. Like anything, you have to learn about them, their interests and passions, and this takes time.