A document came across my desk yesterday. I’m not sure what to call it. Maybe it’s a proposal; perhaps a request for funding or donations. I’m really not too sure, because it’s written so poorly. Yes, it caught my attention, but not for the right reasons.
If you’re trying to create a partnership with me or ask me for money, you better be damn impressive on paper. Here are a few tips for you:
- Make sure you spell my name properly. The aforementioned document wasn’t addressed to me, but I have had this happen to me several times when hiring employees. Most people don’t think my name is that hard to spell, A-L-I [space] A-B-E-L, but you’d be surprised. And if you’re not sure if I’m male or female, don’t guess. I don’t know how many letters, resumes and emails that come across my desk addressing me as “Mr. Abel.” Yes, Ali could be a boy’s name in some countries, but please don’t assume…because you know what happens then.
- At the very least, please use the spelling and grammar check available on your word processing software. If I have to read a sentence more than once to understand what you are trying to say, you’ve lost me and your document/proposal/request will most likely end up in the circular file. And if English isn’t your first language, have someone who is a native English speaker read it over as well. Especially if you’re asking me for money. You won’t instill a lot of confidence in yourself if you can’t write a proper sentence.
- If you are going to include a mission, values and goals in the document, make sure they align. Your values should align with your mission, and your goals should align with both your values and your mission. If they are saying three completely different things, I will start to think you don’t know what you’re doing and/or talking about. If you can’t make them align, don’t include them.
- Do your research. If you’re pitching a partnership idea to me, or asking me for money to support your organization, figure out a way to answer the “what’s in it for me?” question. It’s pretty easy to find out what people like, the groups they support, organizations they are involved in, and what they do for a living. The internet is a beautiful thing. Figure that out, and you’ve got an advantage over the next guy in line.
- Be yourself. I’m in marketing and communications. I know how to spin something so it sounds really good. But I also know when it pays to be authentic. I can see through spin pretty easily, so don’t even bother. Tell me who you are and what you want in your own words, in plain language.
Get it? Got it? Good.