People Do Business With People They Like
Have you ever thought of interpersonal relationships in our business?
When studying major-gift performance, relationships are the ultimate key to success. In truth, relationships are the key to success not only in major gifts, but in all facets of nonprofit work. The simple fact in life is we are all human beings and animals. No matter who you are or what you do, you will never have 100 percent of people like you.
Recently, I was listening to the radio and heard a minister talk about the “25 percent rule” when it comes to people. I always am interested in what makes us tick, so I listened intently to what he said. After the radio program, I attempted to research the source of the information he shared, and I discovered this quote from Joel Osteen in his book, "Every Day a Friday: How to Be Happier 7 Days a Week":
I recently saw an interesting set of statistics on friendship. Researchers found that 25 percent of the people you meet will not like you. The next 25 percent won't like you but could be persuaded to. Another 25 percent will like you but could be persuaded not to, and the final 25 percent will like you and stand by you no matter what.
The purpose behind this quote was to encourage people to invest their energy and focus on those individuals who like or could like them. You will know how they feel by their actions. We all have had successes or failures in life, and many times it is not because of the organizations we represent or the great causes we promote. It is the simple fact that we did not have chemistry with the key decision-makers we were trying to influence.
In her 2013 Forbes’ article, Amy Rees Anderson wrote that people ultimately choose to do business with people they like, and everyone likes someone who appreciates them. She also shared an anonymous quote: “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”
The most powerful tool you have in creating success in your life is to appreciate other people. In her article, Anderson said that saying “thank you” is important in building a relationship. She noted that a handwritten note is powerful in building a relationship. In our world, we need to do more of these personal acts instead of just asking for a gift and having the next interface one year later when we ask for another gift.
All of us constantly are interacting with representatives from foundations, corporations, associations, organizations and families. Each contact is different, and long-term success depends on initial interactions and subsequent personal activities. Have you ever taken the time to look at your prospects and match them with your staff based upon personality and potential fit? If not, and if possible, I strongly suggest you look at these linkages.
I have worked with donors and prospects who I felt would be better served by someone else in my organization due to potential chemistry fits. In fact, over time, many volunteers and donors would ask or engage with others in the organization besides me. I knew this was not personal. My goal was to maintain a long-term positive relationship with them. It never mattered to me who controlled the relationship as long as we were all on the same page when it came to the end results—the generation of time, talent and treasure.
This concept is easy to discuss, but not always easy to implement. There are people I wish I could have had a closer relationship with, but they did not want that engagement. The sooner we learn that people do business with people they like, the sooner we get over our egos.
There is some truth in some percentage of people liking and disliking you. Regardless of the percentage, remember to just be yourself and be true to the organization you serve. Most people will never have the time or desire to truly get to know you. Be a professional, show kindness to others and treat everyone with respect. Do your best to show positive appreciation for and engagement with others. This action hopefully will generate a positive reaction.
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-224-1029.