‘Four Fundraising Strategies for Introverts’

What qualifies a person as being an introvert? Carolyn Gregoire of the Huffington Post answered this question best in her article titled, “23 Signs That You’re Secretly an Introvert.” In light of Gregoire’s characterizations such as “finding small talk incredibly burdensome,” introverts’ needing particular “How-To” strategies for developing effective social skills is a serious matter. Fundraising requires one’s ability to make people feel important while they’re making a difference. Since I’m a certified introvert, here are four strategies that I use to ensure the success of my fundraising campaigns.

remember things

1. Remember Things About People

People feel good when someone thinks that they’re important. Remembering special things about people is one way of accomplishing this feat. Commit to remembering one interesting thing and one special date for every person that you meet. It may seem like a lot to do, but consider that people already do this unknowingly. Recall one interesting thing and one special date for whoever comes to mind while reading this sentence. Easy right? The only difference now is that instead of this tendency being an unwritten assumption, it now should be done intentionally. When introverts make people feel important enough to be remembered, soliciting potential donors will be perceived as another opportunity for them to shine.

call people

2. Check-In With People Periodically

The worse thing to happen for a fundraiser is to be seen as someone who’s only available when s/he needs money. Be intentional about maintaining relationships with people. Phone calls don’t take as much time as people may believe. More often than not, the person on the receiving end will be trying to get off of the telephone more quickly than the caller. However, phone calls convey the message, “Hey I was thinking about you and care enough to call and check in with you.” For introverts, maintaining relationships with people through more ways than face-to-face encounters is key. Therefore, introverts must think of ways to express concern for people without experiencing the drain of attending social events.

passionate people

3. Cater To People’s Passion(s)

Offer people opportunities to raise money for causes they’re passionate about. This objective can only be accomplished by getting to know people first. When there isn’t much time to get to know people before asking for donations, it’s essential to know what causes people are passionate about. In particular, fundraisers must know how much money to ask for. Asking people to donate too much or too little can be offensive. Needless to say, introverts must be strategic in narrating how the success of their fundraising campaign is essential to addressing a particular social problem.

post its

4. Stick To The Plan

Make it your goal to be the best fundraiser that you can be. In general, people’s goals need to be specific and written down, with actions plans for how they should be accomplished. Otherwise, goals are liable to be changed or not accomplished at all. So stick to your strengths and to your specific way of doing things. When you get to know people, let them know that introverts’ aren’t attracted to large groups of people. Introverts fundraise for noble causes and must be keen to convince people to understand that when we are thought to “disappear,” we are actually re-charging.

Introverts are unique; don’t apologize for being you. Sometimes we need to be alone, in order to be useful to others. If you’re struggling to compete with others, refer back to these strategies to remain effective at what you do. Using these strategies to plan for your success will transform what “should be” your fundraising goal into what it “will be.”


‘4 Reasons Why You Should Grow Locs’

[ Originally published via Men With Locs at:

http://www.menwithlocs.com/post/101039550365/4-reasons-why-you-should-grow-locs ]

People often ask me “Why did you decide to lock your hair?” I used to think that my answers got better as I kept answering the same question. However, I always felt that something was missing from my answers. So I asked my family members and friends this same question so that I could develop a more comprehensive answer. Here are four reasons that I consolidated from what they said:

  1. Your locs will teach patience and self-confidence

Having been locking my hair for three years now, I realize that people view locs as a very rebellious hairstyle. While this hairstyle seems simple to wear, locs are very difficult to maintain; they require constant maintenance and attention. Furthermore, locking your hair does not happen overnight. In fact, you probably won’t see any progress in your hair for the first three months. Similar to life, the results of your actions do not always produce immediate results. Vision is what allows a person to focus more on a goal/outcome instead of his/her current circumstances. So, regardless of whether you have just begun the locking process or are contemplating the decision, you must believe that despite how your hair looks, eventually you will attain your desired hairstyle. Intuitively, your self-confidence increases as a result of telling yourself that regardless of the questions other people ask and the ridicule you may experience, locking your hair is what you want to do and that it takes great patience to get there.

  1. Your locs will reflect your evolution

Peoples’ personal evolution is illustrated through the forming of their locs. Three years ago, I began locking my hair from a fade haircut and over the last three years, I’ve experienced my fair share of triumphs, insights, accomplishments, and disappointments. During my locking process, the consistency of my hair changed from being curly to being coarse. Like people, locs are more complex than what meets the eye. Case in point, my hair is naturally curly. However, what people view as my locs are actually tightly coiled strands of curls. Regardless of how we may grow through circumstances and experiences, our core values remain the same. Similar to locs, despite how your appearance may change due to circumstances and experiences, the characteristics that make up You will always remain intact.

  1. Your locs will transform your conception of beauty

The adage “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” is a philosophical truth that summarizes the perspective-shifting you’ll experience by locking your hair. The reality of this hairstyle is that locs are sometimes viewed as being messy, difficult to maintain, and unprofessional for the workplace. In contrast, locking your hair fosters the opportunity to define your own conception of beauty. Often times, people rate each other’s beauty based on how similar they look to a stereotypical white man with his haircut and a stereotypical white woman with her hair straightened. While beauty is always subjective, it has to be more than skin-deep. Physical characteristics are too susceptible to change to adequately measure beauty. Instead, we must evaluate peoples’ beauty based on their moral values and purpose. These two criteria are necessary for people to affect beautiful things into the world. Thus, people are as beautiful as what they create in the world. Furthermore, locs in themselves are beautiful because they indicate to others that you’re invested in more substantive measures of beauty, such as self-love, than superficial ones such as “looking good” based on standards set by popular culture. Altogether, your actions demonstrate beauty whereas locs signify your personal standard of beauty.

  1. Your locs will represent your resilience

Throughout the locking process you develop patience and self-confidence. You are also able to recognize your evolution and create a self-determined conception of beauty. Locs develop your resilience as a result of  the challenges you’ll have to overcome to grow them. In my experience for example, I’ve had to overcome hair thinning at the root of some of my locs to the point that they almost fell out. Had I not learned valuable life lessons like patience through growing locs, I may have decided to cut these locs off, thinking that they would just fall off otherwise. Additionally, locs are a very weather-resistant hairstyle. As a result, your hair will not unravel at the helm of the elements once they form. Parallel to life, people have an ability to overcome whatever circumstantial challenges they face. Getting through what one goes through requires his/her remaining intact mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. “Perseverance Conquers” is a philosophical truth that I use to reframe my thinking to adopting the belief that whatever God puts me through, I am meant to get through. In this way, your locs symbolize that what you learn during their development also develops you into a more socially conscious individual.

As a final thought, the way that we present ourselves to others is a reflection of how we feel. Make sure that what you’re communicating is the same as how you look at yourself in the mirror. Human lives are not given much time on this earth to enhance the lives others. Jim Rohn is often quoted for once saying, “Without a sense of urgency, desire loses its value.” Seize the power that you have to influence others by maintaining a sense of urgency about being the change that you seek in this world.

In no particular order, I would like to personally thank Mr. Zahmu Sankofa, Mr. Greg Corbin, Mr. Kevin Spratley, and Mr. Nolan Fontaine for their competence and openness in sharing their experiences with me to publish this article.


‘5 Ways To Brand Your Successful Company Before You Have One’


“5 Ways To Brand Your Successful Company Before You Have One”

 1. Write

Writing for blogs, websites, newspapers, and journals is a great branding technique. In addition to the readability of your worldviews, online and print media typically include a blurb about the author. Contributing authors can provide a compelling snapshot of their personal and company/organization brand within the guidelines of their character limit. Writing also allows authors more time and flexibility to organize their thoughts and to plan their communication style to others. During in-person conversations, we must have both nonverbal and verbal communication acumen. For example, someone’s mouth may be conveying one idea while his/her folded arms may be saying something else.

In addition to branding through communicating one’s thoughts, professionals must be bilingual by speaking the language of business people – writing. Many, if not all, information is saved and transmitted through digital and print methods of communication. In addition to legal transactions and proceedings, business people are required to provide documentation of any text, images, or concepts that constitute one’s brand.

Altogether, writing is important to create your brand and to communicate your brand to others.


2. Get Active on LinkedIn

LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) is a compartmentalized, user-friendly, way to brand yourself and your company/organization. In my opinion, LinkedIn is the most professional social media platform for your resume/professional accomplishments. With features such as being able to endorse and recommend your LinkedIn connections, there are several ways to facilitate your strategic branding. One way to increase your brand visibility is to endorse your LinkedIn connections on their  “Skills”, especially those areas that are low in number. People will view your LinkedIn profile based on your endorsement on the “Skills” section of others’ profiles. Moreover, when there are less endorsements, your page visibility is increased. However, the drawback is that this person’s pageviews and number of LinkedIn connections are also low since no one is endorsing them. Likewise, listing too many “Skills” on your LinkedIn profile also accounts for low endorsements. Choose five skills that are succinct, and easy to understand for viewers who checked out your page. Simply put, the more endorsements that you have, the better. The less skills you list, the more endorsements you will have since it will take less effort to validate your know-how.

Another way to increase your brand visibility is to write recommendations for your LinkedIn connections. However, I highly recommend that you practice writing recommendations before posting them to your own or others’ page. Remember other people view our brand based on what we write, say, and do. So ensure your ideal first impression by proofreading your writing for grammatical mistakes. To ensure your readability, ask for feedback at little to no-cost from a trustworthy writer that you know. Writing recommendations for your LinkedIn connections is invaluable for three purposes: 1) you get to enhance your writing skills, which are essential for every professional, 2) you increase your brand presence through someone’s LinkedIn profile and last but not certainly least, 3) people learn more about how well you work with others. So when someone requests a recommendation through those nifty pre-written recommendation LinkedIn messages, get excited about this opportunity for strategic branding. Conversely, whenever someone offers to write a recommendation to add to my LinkedIn profile, I ask myself the following questions: Can this person write an inspiring narrative to highlight my skills and expertise? Would you want him/her to do so? What is his/her reputation?

 In other words, both writing and receiving LinkedIn recommendations will increase your brand visibility.


3. Join a Board of Directors (BOD)

Often times, organizations will list their BOD on their company website. This is a great way to market yourself and brand your company name and mission, especially if your website is up and running and listed on the named organization’s website. In addition, when the organization has special events, BOD members are often acknowledged along with their associated company/organization. Professionals are recruited as BOD members based on their potential support of a company’s organizational vision, mission, and values. BOD members are viewed as invaluable sources of experts on particular industries, or companies/organizations. Both budding and well-seasoned professionals must take advantage of opportunities to strategically brand themselves and/or their company/organization. When I was recruited to join the Board of Directors at a Philadelphia-based public health non-profit organization called Bebashi- Transition to Hope, I asked myself, “What transferable skills do I have to offer to a successful company?”

 After I pondered over my natural abilities, I realized that the better question to ask myself was, “How do other people view me?” On a piece of paper, I inventoried the recurrent themes in my past conversations, interviews, recommendation letters, and compliments from other people. Simply put, people recognize my skills of program development, community outreach, and corporate branding. As an aside, I made sure that my LinkedIn “Skills” section was consistent with this epiphany. While we are the best experts on our own skills and expertise, our brand is the average of what others say and what we say about ourselves. I accepted a position on the Nominating Committee at Bebashi to gain additional experience that was consistent with my brand. The more active you are on a BOD, the more branding exposure you will gain. Similarly, the more you do for others, the more they will do for you.


4. Volunteer

Find out what you’re passionate about by volunteering at different events. Similarly, you can grow your opportunities to do the work that you’re passionate about by volunteering. Skills-based volunteering (pro bono consulting) can become a branding opportunity when you invest in refining what you do. Think back to the time before the internet (yes that age actually existed), people who achieved international notoriety accomplished this through the best method of marketing and advertising possible – word of mouth branding. Research suggests that we tend to trust who trustworthy people deemed trustful (are you still with me?). So when someone trustworthy recommends your awesome skills/services to others, voila! You are on your way to doing big things!

Conversely, non-skills-based volunteering at events that interest you can also transform into a branding opportunity. When you pique others’ interest through your reason for volunteering (i.e., your why) at said event, they want to know more about you. This is a window of opportunity to tell others about your brand, whether that be who are you individually, or the vision, mission, and values of your company/organization. Your interest in others also grows their curiosity in you, so convince people of your excitement about their passion. At best, you have solidified a new business partner, or BOD member, volunteer, or donor, if not all three. At worse, you have just used some elbow grease to initiate a conversation about you to others. In my book, that is also known as word of mouth branding.


5. Do the Work

There is no way around doing the big things that you say you do. Regardless of whether you are a social entrepreneur creating business solutions for social problems like I am, people want to see examples of your work. After more than three years of running my benefit corporation called WeDoBigThings, I can attest that the time will never be perfect to start impacting the world around you. Doing the work means different things for people- writing, acting, or social impact engineering. You may be wondering, “What’s the common theme among all people who actualized their dream?” – they never quit trying new ideas. I remember riding in a car listening to an audiobook of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho with a friend around the summer season of 2013. I said to my friend, “Man I wish that the voices of people who read audio books were more lively.” My friend replied, “Well why don’t you create your own audiobook then?” So for several months I organized and planned with two other motivational speakers to realize an audiobook compilation during the coming winter. Basically, we quit the plan and never released the audiobook. Often times, we set lofty goals and then quit before making them a reality.

Furthermore, the only reason that our dreams are not made a reality is if we create ideas to kill our vision. As Kevin Hart would say, the way that our minds are set up…we learn from experience. Positive outcomes encourage us whereas negative outcomes have the potential to deter us. But, we can use the power of thought to our advantage. Negative outcomes are the best teachable moments for several reasons: 1) we can become uncomfortable enough with an unfavorable outcome that we are motivated to change, 2) there are countless role models and success stories of people who “failed” until they got it right, and lastly, 3) people who have had similar pathways to their success will support the work you do by offering resources and encouragement to persevere.