Honestly, if you can’t personalize the 11 words in your pre-formatted LinkedIn note, I’m really not that interested in connecting with you.

This post is about making it personal. It’s something that I spend a lot of time thinking about because I wear two hats – I run a small business, but I also work with not-for-profits. Funnily enough, I use the same correspondence rules for both:

Be personal, be genuine, and do your best to make each and every one of them feel important and unique in your eyes.

Making it personal – it all starts with listening
Here’s a crash course on how to be more personal. I can guarantee you that it creates a much richer and more valuable relationship in the long run. If you’re having trouble ‘being personal’ with clients, or donors, here are a few guidelines. It’s really amazing how few organizations (or people) follow them.

How to be personal

  • Take the time to ask your clients what’s going on in their world. Listen – and remember what they say. It shows that you cared enough to remember when you bring things up in a future conversation. If you don’t have a great memory, then write it down somewhere;
  • Take every – and I mean every – opportunity to personalize something that is pre-formatted. That includes LinkedIn messages, your email signature, or any written correspondence. I hand-write addresses and personal messages inside every holiday card I send to my business clients. They work with me all year, and invest their money with me. The least I can do is say ‘thank you’ in a personal, meaningful way.
  • Share something personal about yourself. Your ability to open up helps others to share. Do you have a passion? Are you a nutty cross-country skier like me? Share something about you – the individual – so your donor or client can get to know you better.

The ‘I don’t have time to personalize argument’
That’s like saying I am too busy working to thank my clients in a meaningful way. Don’t have time? Ok, so start your holiday cards in October. Ask a dedicated volunteer to help you out. Move something else on your plate so you can thank and steward properly.

The funny part is, personalizing never takes as long as you think it will.

So what’s the outcome of making it personal? What’s the Return on Investment (ROI)?

  • Impact – All of your correspondence will register with your clients and donors. They will be personally engaged by your communications.
  • Differentiation – You need only to look at your inbox to recognize that it’s crucial in our modern world to differentiate yourself from those other charities. Creating meaningful relationships with donors is one of the ways that you can do that.
  • Connection – Shared experiences means that you are connected to each other. Creating connections is a natural human experience, and it just plain feels good! This is how I choose to work.

I encourage all of you to go out, to personalize, and to prosper! Happy New Year!