Before returning to the classroom in 2008, I spent many years in business with my family. I have worked in my family's candle shop, toy Store, and online businesses. I even grew up with my grandparents and parents working in fast food. I have done the party plans selling crystal, jewelry, and make-up. I have been a bank teller and moved up to an account representative. My husband and I successfully built a handmade candle business and just recently "retired" from our video production business. Whew! With all this business background, no wonder I thought I need to be marketing my classroom to the community.
But I know not every teacher has this same background. So here are some tips that I have learned through my business experience to help promote what you are doing in the classroom.
This takes practice and I promise it will become easier over time.
Tip 1: Be Sharp! Make sure you are "Dressed for Success". I don't mean a business suit, but you certainly do not want to promote your classroom in a t-shirt and sweats! Remember you are representing your school and classroom to your community.
Tip 2: Be a Customer! I would not recommend using this method for "door to door" promotion of your classroom. This is about connecting with businesses that you frequent. Build the connections for future donations. This method takes time to see results.
Tip 3: Be SMOOTH! Have your biz cards in a place that is easy to access. I have placed mine in my wallet just in front of my debit card. Each time I reach for my debit card, I slide one out. No searching or fumbling in my purse for one--it is ready to go.
Tip 4: Be NICE! It is much easier to ask for a donation from a stranger when you have treated them with kindness. For instance, make sure you leave a good tip for your server if you are also giving him/her your card.
Tip 5: Be Respectful! After introducing yourself and handing them the card, have just a couple of sentences to explain your purpose. Keep it short. It does not hurt to rehearse it at home, but make sure it is natural. It should only take 60 seconds or less to hand your card to someone. Being quick shows respect to the business and other clients who may be waiting.
If you want a "script" to play with I have one below. Please put your own personality into it. I have never said these EXACT words but I follow this formula: introduce my position and school, state my mission, give an invitation to go online, and give the range of donations accepted. Leave me a comment with your thoughts.
"I am a kindergarten teacher at Dayton Elementary. And I am letting area businesses know about my classroom projects on a non-profit website called Donors Choose. If you are interested in supporting education in our community, please take a couple minutes when you have time to visit my website. Donations from a $1 on up are appreciated and tax deductible."