I was talking to a nonprofit Executive Director last week about fundraising. We spent most of our time unpacking the heart of every fundraising meeting: the energy you bring into the room.
It’s not just important, it is everything. No matter the words you say, if you say them without the other person being able to feel them then the meeting has already failed.
But what do you do if you’ve had a bad run and you’re not feeling the mojo? Maybe it’s been a tough month or quarter and you can’t seem to put a smile on your face and “stay positive?”
My take is: don’t try to fake it.
Of course you have to be professional, and fundamentally you have to retain your long-term optimism and your deep belief that you’ll get big things done—if you don’t believe in you, no one will. But overly polishing and buffing your delivery will fail most of the time.
Inauthenticity is like a single poisonous drop that contaminates the entire cup of water. Rather than slap on a can-do attitude, bring your truth in that moment into the room. Be willing to lay it bare.
If things are hard, if you are feeling frustrated, if you don’t know how you’re going to storm the next hill, don’t complain, but don’t hide that away. Show faith and trust in the person you’re speaking with; have the confidence to share the real.
Sharing this truth might help you discover what’s really going on, and it will certainly communicate that you need actual help and that this meeting isn’t just another meeting. That’s an honest ask for support that, at a minimum, will be met with humanity and, in most cases, action.
People are craving this sort of connection, and they are more likely to help if they understand that they can, actually, help. Seeing your willingness to be authentic lets them understand the kind of partner you’ll be to them in the long haul—especially when the chips are down.