1. The intro email
You’ve received an email introducing you to each other. The email will include a little bit of information about the charity person’s situation and the expert’s knowledge.
Either of you can reply. Please reply quickly and get the ball rolling. Something like:
‘Hey! Great to be introduced. It would be good to organise the call. When’s good for you? I’m free Weds XXpm or Thurs before YYpm’
Arranging the call
Agree how much time you’re going to talk for. Sixty minutes is great, but if you can only offer 30 or 45 that's ok too.
Make it a Zoom or Teams chat if you can. Video and hands-free is good for communication. Phone is fine, if you prefer. Either way, offer your phone number as a backup in case of video gremlins.
Ideally, send a calendar invite. Include your vid link and/or phone number in the location field. This minimises the chance of hiccups and makes it easier for everyone to be ready on time.
Experts: You can ask for more information
You can ask for more info in advance or wait till the call. If you want you could email something like:
‘Can you send me a paragraph or two on the challenge you’re facing, or what you’re trying to achieve? That’ll help me offer you the best advice I can in the time that we have.’
Charities might send you more than this because they aren’t sure what to say. They might even send you attachments. It's ok if you don’t have time to read them all.
2. During the call
Be ready to lead
Ask them to describe their problem or what they are trying to achieve in their own words. Even if they’ve already sent you this information, asking them to talk about it first helps you both settle and creates a solid starting point for the conversation.
Listen and be curious
Ask more questions about what they are trying to achieve. This helps them reflect and get clearer. It’s ok to spend lots of the call listening ( likely to be because that’s what they need right now). Listening helps you understand their context and give better advice.
Be unconditionally supportive
You’re here to help them feel more confident about their situation, not just to share insight and advice.
Offer ideas, platforms, advice, software, further sources of learning, training, websites, other people to talk to.
Say if you don’t know something or don’t have an opinion
Better this than offering wrong info or half-baked advice. You don’t have to be perfect. Ask them to submit another enquiry to Candle.
Offer another call if you’ve time and think it would be helpful
Or just offer the option to contact you again. People feel more confident when they’ve a safety net of support within reach.
The main thing is to be your lovely self! Other tips include:
You’ve got this opportunity to ask an expert anything you like. Take it.
Tech people like details. Feel free to share links to work in progress, etc.
Phase your question succinctly
If you’ve got time to reflect on what precisely you want to ask, it always helps to hone in on the exact area.
Feel free to ask the expert to repeat themselves
It can be hard for an expert to know how to pitch their answers to the right level. It’s easy to fall into jargon without even realising it. If you are losing the thread don’t just nod along!
Ask Candle again
It’s fine to do this. Perhaps you'd like a second opinion. Perhaps your thinking has progressed. Submit another request for support here.
3. After the call
We’d love to hear from you. Candle is still a prototype and we’ve lots to learn about making it work. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.