Following up on those trade show and conference leads

Does it seem like time has flown by this winter?

I know it has for me. Maybe it’s the strange weather — my friends living in the middle and right hand side of the country seem to be getting hit with yet another major snow storm, while Seattle has been enjoying a relatively mind and dry winter.

Follow up on those leads!

Audrey II and my 65 pound spaniel. Audrey is not a small plant.

In fact, it has been so mild that I don’t think I’ve worn a jacket outside in weeks and my prized Gunnera Manicata (aka Audrey II) is already starting to grow rapidly… about a month ahead of schedule.

Good old Audrey II. She is so popular, friends bring their loved ones to my house during the summer months to have group photos taken under her canopy. She is so popular, she might as well have her own Facebook page (friends pressure me into creating a new FB photo album documenting her growth every year). My husband and I like to attend the annual Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle to find various experts who are “in the know” we can brag to about Audrey II. She is definitely one of a kind here in cold, temperate Seattle. But even Audrey is confused by the weather and is having time-space issues.

Continue reading


Are you Board yet? A more personal perspective on joining a Board

I finally joined a Board.

I say “finally” because I have been invited to apply for Board positions since leaving academia in 2007, but the situations were never right. I have worked with Boards, under Boards, and helped clients work on Board development strategies. Why would I take so long to finally join one? A strong and effective Board of Directors should be the vital core of an organization, and it seems like, in my personal experience, those organizations that are struggling or suffering in some way share one common factor — Board problems.

Are you on board yet? Personal perspective on Board of Directors

I think everyone who has worked in nonprofits has experienced similar problems/frustrations, including the Board members themselves.

There are a lot of great sources of information and advice, including possible benefits of joining a Board of Directors, basic fiduciary responsibilities, potential dilemmas of ineffectiveness, corruption, or just general bad behavior (such as this, this, and this), and the importance of Board member engagement. There are many, many more articles and blog posts our there on the interwebs discussing the benefits, pitfalls, and responsibilities you take on when joining a board.

Continue reading

Does cold calling result in hot leads or frozen phones?

Some sales people and fundraisers swear that cold calling works and is effective. Others swear cold calling is futile and dead in this age of the internet. In sales, I heard both arguments, and I myself was conflicted about its efficiency (I had some good conversations, but I left ten times  more voicemail messages… that were never returned).

Cold Call

Cold Call (Photo credit: Alan R. Light)

Interestingly enough, most of the links I found to share are from salespeople trying to sell their training programs — and those training programs are centered around either a.) cold calling works, you’re just doing it wrong; or b.) cold calling doesn’t work, do something else. Something I used to stress to my students years ago was to always examine the source of information found on the internet and question the motivation of the author. Of course cold calling does or does not work — you want me to buy your program to get better at, or to go on without, cold calling.

Here are a few thoughts that are a bit more balanced (except the first link is to someone whose business is “Never Cold Call Again”):

Cold Calling: A Business Owner’s Perspective

Make a Cold Call that Works

And perhaps one of the best headings I’ve read: Being Good at B2B Cold Calling is Like Being a Functional Drunk

What are your thoughts? Do you use cold calling yourself, or your company/org use cold calling with a call center? Do you respond to cold calls?

“Great (people) are not born great, they grow great.” And they find great mentors, don’t they?


I realize that I have been absolutely blessed to have so many wonderful mentors in my professional life — various people who were slightly wiser and more experienced (and sometimes VERY much wiser and more experienced), not always older than me in years but certainly older than me in knowledge and skill. In every field I’ve worked — hospitality, academia, and non-profits — I was lucky to find great teachers in my friends, and great friends in my teachers. These relationships happened naturally. Effortlessly. Wondrously.

“Godfather. Will you look at my LinkedIn page for me?”

So it is interesting that I find myself in the fourth month of this new career journey and I am still relatively mentor-free. My boss is a wonderful teacher and I would never trade him for the world, but it seems I would have networked the heck out of this new field by now and found other additional great coaches. To actively and consciously seek out a new mentor or two … where do I even start?

Continue reading

Terrible New Year, Terrible New Mantra…

We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us. ― Joseph Campbell

Isn't Life Terrible?

I’m not one to make resolutions. I learned as a teenager that the new year resolution tradition is a trap. However, I was struck by this quote the other day and will be adopting it as my “New Year Mantra.” I can look back on 2012 and state unequivocally that it was a terrible year. Using a limited self-serving frame of reference to assess it, one could easily just give the year of 12 a resounding thumbs-down. However, I am instead seeing it for what it really was: a terrible year of lessons and change.

The word terrible means more than just “really bad.” Terrible also means serious, extreme, or awe-inspiring. The original Latin word terrere really means to fill with fear or cause to tremble. Yep, that pretty much sums up 2012 — a year of serious, extreme, and awe-inspiring learning.

I am hoping that 2013 is also a year of terrible. I will be looking for those extreme and awe-inspiring moments this year when maybe, perhaps, I will be able to let go of the life I had planned and be able to recognize the life is that is waiting for me — professionally while I grow and learn, and personally while I figure out how to redefine myself.

What about you? What are your plans for 2013? Have a wonderful new year!

P.S. I know he is controversial in the lit-crit crowd, but I actually really loved Campbell and found some of his theories helpful for my students when we studied Arthurian romance cycles. It made me just a tiny bit happier to find this quote from him the other day. Thank you, Professor Campbell, for the little bits of wisdom you have randomly injected into my life over the years. Are we living out a monomyth cycle? A continuous journey that brings us through birth, death, and rebirth?

The True Role of the Executive Director

I believe strongly in collaboration, and I love to do whatever I can to help foster healthy communities — professionally, personally, and socially. This guest post from my friend Tim Heimerle at Hiring Karma marks the first of what I hope will be a long and fruitful series of posts from other relationship builders in the Seattle community and beyond. Enjoy! – Jen

By Tim Heimerle

As I’ve been moving through my most recent job search, I’ve been thinking a great deal about roles and responsibilities.  My search has been slightly schizophrenic, as I’ve been interviewing for both pure development and executive director positions.  And while these two elements of my search have been very different, there is perhaps one commonality between the two.

Put in the simplest terms, the job of a Development Director is to raise money. As many who have held this position will tell you, it is both an art and a science.  You deal with data, reporting, correspondence, personalities, psychology, ego and a myriad of other items. But at the end of the day, the most important task, in my opinion, of a Development Director is to build and maintain relationships.

Continue reading

From Hiring Karma: Culture eats strategy for breakfast, or lunch

Boaters get a thrill.

My friend Tim at Hiring Karma finds the best articles to help others think about their non-profit job search at a higher, slightly more philosophical level. I’m highlighting this particular article because it applies to workplace culture in general… and it is so important to consider. Thanks, Tim! Culture eats strategy for breakfast, or lunch.

Happy Labor Day weekend!

Sometimes you just need to stop and breathe…

I will be honest: I’m normally so busy (aren’t we all) that I tend to not take the time to stop, watch, listen, think, reflect. We all know that stress is bad for us — mentally and physiologically. I know it. Yet, I still need to be better about carving out a few moments to alleviate stress. Even when I’m at the gym, I have a hard time letting go (I hate my current swim goggles… it’s always something, right?). Grad school with a toddler alone probably shaved years off my life…

For the first time in a very long time, I actually took an afternoon late last week to visit SAM. Normally when I visit, it’s with a purpose or an agenda, usually a specific show (Picasso! Gauguin!) or some other motivator. Not this time. This time, to help get my mind off some recent stress, I walked in with absolutely no agenda except to turn off my phone and wander the galleries.

It was nice to be able to sit with some of my favorite “old friends” at SAM and know that I could spend as much time as I wanted (or at least until my parking expired). One of my favorite works is Bierstadt’s Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast (1870).

Continue reading

Relationships are vital for the relationship managers, too

I had the great pleasure of having coffee/lunch with a friend today, someone who I have not seen since last fall when the campaign we worked on together came to a triumphant close. Since that was my first major campaign (a very intense 10-month $1.25m with no pre-existing donor base to speak of), spider web I considered B one of my teachers/mentors. It was wonderful catching up with her, hearing about her professional experiences in the last 12 months, sharing my incredible experiences in the last 12 months, discussing the latest trends in our field, and who has moved to where and when (you know, the usual stuff development people talk about when they get together).

We also talked about the importance of networks, mentoring relationships, and community. It dawned on me that I’ve written quite a bit about the importance of building and maintaining relationships between organizations and constituents, but I haven’t written much about the importance of building and maintaining relationships within the professional community.

Continue reading