Tech-Related Advice For My Fellow Millennials

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    In my last post, I shared a few thoughts with fundraising managers about supervising “digital natives.” Today, I have some tech-related advice for my fellow Millennials.

    1. Stay open to the possibility that the internet may not be the solution every time.

    Sometimes, for example, emailing your prospect just won’t get it done. You may need to pick up the phone or meet face-to-face to move the conversation forward. I’ll talk more about this in the weeks ahead.

    2. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn from your older colleagues.

    Fundraising is about people – other people, specifically.

    I mentioned earlier that many of the best frontline fundraisers I know have been at it for decades. These gift officers are beloved by whoever they meet and can build trust quickly with just about anybody. And a little secret: some of them don’t use a computer. Ever.

    If anyone like that works at your organization, get to know them … in as great a depth as you can. Ask if you can listen in when they call prospects, or if you can tag along on donor visits.

    In particular, focus on how they establish rapport and nurture relationships. What language do they use when speaking to prospects? Listen to their tone of voice, and watch their body language and mannerisms. It will be an education in people skills, I promise.

    3. Be skeptical of your multi-tasking abilities.

    A growing body of research shows that multi-tasking doesn’t lead to higher productivity. Why? There’s a small cognitive “cost” to switching between tasks – these add up over time. Moreover, Stanford professor Dr. Clifford Nass has shown that multi-taskers have a harder time tuning out distractions.

    So, my recommendation is to test it. Schedule a few 45-minute windows in your day where you focus exclusively on your highest priority tasks. Put your phone on silent and place it out of reach. Close down your email program, along with unnecessary web pages.

    Whether you’re making outreach calls, writing an appeal letter, or developing a project strategy, commit to focusing on nothing else for those 45 minutes. Try this for a few days and see if you don’t find yourself getting more of the most important things done.

    That’s it for this topic, but keep coming back. In my next posting, I’ll talk about something most Millennials would rather avoid: phone calls.

    In the meantime, leave a comment and share your funniest story about generational differences in the workplace.

    K. Michael Johnson is a major gift officer at a large research university
    and the founder ,
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