How to use “handshake content” to start profitable business relationships

I recently had a conversation with a nonprofit client about writing their organizational brochure.
The piece is meant to introduce prospective partners and donors to the nonprofit by providing a top-level overview of the organization.
Basically, it needs to tell their story.
The client is extremely passionate and does fantastic work. However, the work is pretty complex. So the organization was wondering if they should include a chart that describes their process for, in simple terms, doing what they do. And while it’s a great chart that is informative and detailed, I said no.
Why did I say no?
Because no one cares.
How to use “handshake content” to start profitable business relationships
Let me rephrase – no one cares right away.
Of course, they will care eventually, once they are ready to make the decision to become a partner or donor.
But when they are just learning your name and what you do, they don’t care how you do what you do. They just care that you do it, and do it well.
When we think about engaging new audiences with an initial piece of content, we need to stop thinking about it as lead generation or prospect outreach and start thinking about it as meeting new people.

In other words, think of your introductory piece of content as your handshake.

When you’re meeting someone new, you probably tell her something that quickly encapsulates who you are – perhaps where you work, or whom you know in common, or what you’re passionate about.
Do you ever start that conversation by giving your new pal a detailed description of the daily tasks you need to complete to be who you are? Hopefully not.
And why don’t you? Because it’s understood that there are specific tasks you need to do to be the awesome, professional, go-getter that you are. No one cares that you start each day with a shower, read the newspaper and then grab a grande vanilla latte.
They just care that you’re amazing. 

Too often, passionate organizations let the details of what they do overpower the impact of what they do.

When this happens, the impact becomes less, well, impactful. The story gets too complex to be compelling.
So how do you create engaging “handshake content” that makes a powerful first impression?

1. Keep it short.

Just like in real life, you don’t want to overpower that first conversation. Give your audience a compelling glimpse at what you do – just enough to hook their interest. Lead with a meaningful story that brings your mission to life. (Find out how in “Nonprofits: Your Cause is not Your Story”.)

2. Make it personal.

Your handshake content should briefly position the problem or need that makes your organization necessary. Don’t start your conversation by talking about how important you are – show them how important you are.
How to use “handshake content” to start profitable business relationships

3. Make it powerful.

Nothing is worse than a weak, timid handshake. So demonstrate your impact in big, bold statements. Prove that you’re the answer to that need or problem. Toot your own horn, for Pete’s sake.

4. Close strong.

You don’t just walk away from a conversation without a close. So ask for something. It doesn’t have to be anything that requires a big commitment, but make it easy for your audience to take the next step. Perhaps that means linking to additional content, or contacting someone for more information, or answering a few questions. It’s not desperate to ask – it shows interest.
Your handshake can set the tone for the rest of your relationship. Make it strong, make it memorable – and remember that there’s a real person on the other end.
Want to learn more about creating compelling stories? Contact us to start the conversation!

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  • […] A memorable story doesn’t have to be complex. Make it strong but keep it simple—you can tell the longer tale after you’ve intrigued your audience. Learn more about the concept of handshake content. […]

  • Wow. A lot of valuable advice in a concise topic. You already made me think about some things differently. Thank you.

    Grammye - May 8, 2021 at 12:52 pm

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