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Small pit in your stomach

Mazel tov – your nephew is getting married tonight!

Normally, you enjoy family simchas. As you get ready for tonight’s event, though, you’ve got a small knot in your stomach.


Because the kallah’s great uncle is a renowned businessman famous for heavily supporting organizations similar to yours.

And your own second cousin is a highly successful entrepreneur and baal tzedakah.

Both will be at the wedding, along with a few other highly promising prospects.

These opportunities are too good to pass up. You know you’re going to have to spend time this evening laying some fundraising groundwork.

But you (like the rest of us) really don’t enjoy pitching. Especially because the sushi table at a shmorg isn’t quite the place for a full-length, passionate pitch.

You’re not sure how to make the most of these opportunities without messing up.

Well, here’s the secret to a successful shmorg-side pitch:

Don’t try to pitch. Just focus your efforts on… starting a conversation.

How do you do that? Well, how do you start any conversation with someone you want to connect better with?

Assuming you can catch their attention for more than a ‘shalom aleichem’, continue the conversation by showing an interest in them.

Don’t try to turn the conversation to you. Their favorite conversations are the ones where they do most of the talking. Keep that in mind when striking up your shmorg-side chat.

That’s Stage 1.

Stage 2 is when the conversation turns to you. At some point, if the conversation continues - and it may not get past the first 20 seconds - your fellow schmoozer may ask the classic “What do you do? or “What are you up to?” question.

Here’s the tricky part. For maximum effectiveness, you need to answer that question in less than 10 seconds. You also need to do it simply, clearly, and compellingly.

Not sure what to stuff into those few seconds? Try answering this question:

What is the one thing your organization does that, if you weren’t doing it, there would be a real lack in your area of the world?'

Here’s an example:

"I head Yeshiva Toras Chaim. We take young teens at this crucial point in their lives and inject them with a passion for learning and a tremendous sense of meaning in their avodas Hashem.”

Once you’ve said that – pause. You’re ready for Stage 3.

Stage 3 starts when you gauge their reaction. If they seem even mildly interested – if they raise their eyebrows, lean in, or give a curious look – you can go in with your slightly longer “Why-Pitch,” your explanation for why you do the work you do.

“Many boys at this age aren’t feeling fulfilled by Yiddishkeit. Davening feels empty, learning feels like a burden. You’re familiar with this scenario, right? But it doesn’t have to be this way.”

Take another pause. Check in again – are they still interested? If so, you might want to continue.

“That’s where Yeshiva Toras Chaim comes in. Each boy, through having a close personal relationship with a rebbe, who get these boys, will guide and mentor his talmid through personal example and great chinuch to find joy and satisfaction in learning, mitzvos and in avodas Hashem”

Now comes Stage 4 – which can go one of two ways.

Either your conversation about your work continues organically…

Or it stops, and he moves on to speak with someone else, or moves on to other topics.

Either way, you’ve accomplished your mission.

You’ve engaged this prospect and perhaps even gotten them interested. Which means you now have an opening for further follow-up.

You might want to wrap up with an actual request to speak further at a different time.

Even if your schmoozing partner prefers to discuss the excellent texture of the sashimi he’s tasting, however, you’ve still done 85% of the prospecting work. You’ve raised this person’s interest enough that they’re open to speaking with you. You now have a reason to reach out for a meeting later on.

Once again:

Stage 1: Just schmooze (about them)

Stage 2: Give your less than 10 second answer to their “what do you do?” question

Stage 3: If they seem interested, give your “Why-Pitch”

Stage 4: Let things unfold naturally. This isn’t about pressure, not for you and not for them. It’s simply about piquing their interest.

Once you’ve done that, you can go enjoy your sushi b’simcha. You’ve done your job.

Hatzlacha raba!

Have a great week.



© Avraham Lewis & Co.