Coffee Shop Conversation

It might be a coffee shop, a cocktail party, or a chance water cooler meeting. There, right in front of you, is someone who can make a positive difference for kids in the library!  It’s a golden opportunity, so what do you say?

Introduce yourself. If you’ve met but think the person might not remember you, introduce yourself again.

Explain your library connection. (See Elevator Speech)

Express enthusiasm, and lead with something interesting. “I’m so glad I’ve run into you. I made the most surprising discovery the other day...” Then share a fact, statistic, or story relating to your main topic.

Explain your concern, and tailor your message to the listener. In jargon-free language, tell your listener about the issue at hand.

Articulate why resolving the situation is necessary. Point out the perils of the current circumstance followed by the benefits to the listener or the listener’s constituencies.

Solicit agreement that this resolution would be a good thing. Give your listener an opportunity to engage in the conversation.

Demonstrate how your listener’s intervention will help. Provide examples of how your listener can be a hero in this situation—and how people will find out about that.

Make your request. In a direct question, ask for what you need.

Follow up. Afterwards, send an email with thanks for the great conversation and reiterating what was discussed and agreed upon.

Congratulate yourself! Seizing opportunities and having advocacy conversations are an accomplishment, so pat yourself on the back!

The ALSC website has more details, including examples, opening lines, and principles of persuasion!