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Tips for Re-entering Society

Meg Ferguson, CFRE Meg Ferguson, CFRE Business Development Director

Dear Industry Colleagues and Friends,

This past month has presented me with a few incredible opportunities to resume some semblance of “normal” as far as societal engagement and interaction with actual 3D people – other than those in my “bubble.” It has been eye-opening, a little exhausting if I’m being completely honest, and mostly amazing.

I have also discovered that I am a bit out of practice “being” in society. Even for us extroverts or social introverts, socializing is apparently an endurance event and, Friends, I am out of shape. I thought I’d share a few tips for re-entering society in the hopes of better preparing you for your first professional outing in this latest phase of our lives. (Or at minimum, provide some mild amusement.)

  1. Make a check list of what you need to take with you. The first few times I had to mobilize my home office to meet and work somewhere other than my home, I had to make several trips back to the house for things like: my cell phone, my laptop, charger, glasses, water bottle, pants, shoes…Okay, just kidding about the pants and the shoes but I did go to the grocery with slippers on once during COVID so it’s not out of the realm of possibility.
  2. Dust off your “work clothes” and allow for extra time to get ready. No, really, dust them off. My belt has not seen the light of day in over a year and had to be dusted and polished. You’ll want to reacquaint yourself with your entire wardrobe – or at least the bottom half.
  3. Allow for extra time, in general. To dress (see #2), to get out the door (see #1) and to get to your destination. Traffic patterns have changed, and you may be rusty on the best places to park or driving in general. (By the way, when was the last time you got an oil change?)
  4. Be aware of conversational social skills. Some of the things we shared pre-COVID, haven’t existed (travel, vacations, outings, etc.) Some of us might be excited to talk to someone other than our bubble and we might share, or overshare, the realities of our COVID experience. It might be a good idea to remind yourself of appropriate conversation topics before you head out.
  5. If food is involved, don’t share small plates. Maybe this one is just me; I have been eating meals almost exclusively with two teenaged boys so if I don’t eat with “enthusiasm,” I don’t eat. I’ll order my own plate for a while so no one gets hurt. (You thought this one was germ-related, didn’t you? See #6.)
  6. Consider your comfort level and others in advance. Our industry is a warm and wonderful group of people. For many of us, a hug is an impulse and at the very least, not to extend a hand in greeting feels rude. The last thing we want to do is make one another uncomfortable. Think about your boundaries, and others in advance. Perhaps be the first to offer a friendly elbow bump to break the proverbial ice, and make that initial interaction less awkward.

Next time we are together, I can share a few other verbal tips with context (undocumented so there is plausible deniability,) unless I get a better handle on #4 between now and then.

I know as we re-enter society together, we will show one another grace and kindness as the people of this industry are known for. I genuinely cannot wait to see you, collaborate in person, and enjoy your company when we are comfortable and able to do so. And then I will go home and take a nap until I am back to my pre-COVID state.

Warmly,
Meg

About the Author

Meg Ferguson, CFRE
Meg Ferguson, CFRE Business Development Director

Meg brings more than 15 years of direct marketing, fundraising campaign and production management experience to the Production Solutions team. As a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE), Meg has a strong track record in strategic creation and implementation of direct marketing campaigns for a variety of nonprofit organizations and sectors. She has managed creative strategy, copy, design, list and data selection/optimization processes, and utilizes campaign results to execute a variety of different testing strategies. Her experience working directly with clients, and her CFRE accreditation enable Meg to understand a broader scope of philanthropic fundraising, including relationship building, ethics, accountability and long-term sustainability. Prior to joining the nonprofit fundraising industry, Meg oversaw sales promotion and marketing for Nordstrom. She made the transition led by her desire to work with clients’ strategic planning and fundraising for critical causes. Meg is an educator, industry leader, speaker, active member of the ANA (formerly DMA), AFP, TNPA, and current Board Member for the DMAW.