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.

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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?

Mentors.

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?

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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?

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.

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Companis: Inspiring Model of Generosity, Compassion, and Community

I must admit that I’ve been feeling down in the dumps lately… but spending the afternoon with the wonderful community of Companis workers cured me quickly!

You haven’t heard of Companis in Seattle? You need to!

Companis is an organization that matches professionals in the Puget Sound community with struggling nonprofits who need social workers, accountants, program managers, directors, development professionals… but cannot afford the staffing costs. Companis workers commit to year-long terms of service to their matched organizations. Yes, a year. Think of it as the Peace Corps for Seattle. And Companis doesn’t just make the volunteer match and move on. Workers gather together every few weeks for support and workshops, have annual retreats, and other community building opportunities. This model means that the experience is as enriching and transformative for the workers as it is for the organizations with which they volunteer.

I feel so lucky — blessed, really — to have learned of Companis last summer. Even though I myself have not had the opportunity to become a year-long Companis worker (hopefully in the future when the circumstances are right), I realized today at the Companis picnic how important and inspiring this organization has been to me — personally and professionally.

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Relationships give, not relationships take

“Some of the biggest challenges in relationships come from the fact that most people enter a relationship in order to get something. They’re trying to find someone who’s going to make them feel good. In reality, the only way a relationship will last is if you see your relationship as a place that you go to give, and not a place that you go to take.” — Tony Robbins

A high school friend posted this quote on Facebook yesterday — and it stuck with me all day. It stuck with me all weekend, really. Robbins was referring to intimate/romantic relationships, I assume, but this can be true of all types of relationships: teacher/student, customer/vendor, parent/child, and even donor/organization.

There are some development people out there who believe that donors are to give; that’s their “job” as defined by the very word that marks them (the etymology is the Latin word donare, which means to give as a gift). But surely there must be more to it. When someone makes a gift of time, talent, and resources to an organization, it is because they have formed a bond — a relationship — with the organization’s mission, services, role in the community, staff, and board. The organization is giving to the donor through this relationship in some profound way (and there are many different ways, depending on the circumstances). The donors trust that the organization will work to fulfill its mission with the support. The donors feel satisfaction that the gifts will make some difference in the community. The donors feel connected on a personal level with a cause or issue important to them.

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Outreach and trusting in good touches

Traffic for my post last weekend about the pineapple upside-down cupcakes went through the roof. And I mean through the roof! I was so excited, I shared the news with my husband Sunday night:

Me: “Traffic for my cupcake parable post is through the roof!”

Al: “That’s because everyone is searching for pineapple upside-down cupcake recipes and landing on your site.”

And he’s right. Even my own friends — people who know that this blog specifically focuses on NPOs — sent me feedback about the cupcakes themselves:English: A tin with large divets in it, for ma...

  • “Photos look yummy!”
  • “Sorry your first batch didn’t turn out.”
  • “You’re so brave to make a new recipe the night before a party.” (or dumb, in my opinion)

But I also heard back from friends and colleagues who said the story made them think and reflect on their own processes, perseverance, and reactions to roadblocks and perceived short-comings. Some of these comments came from development professionals with whom I then had great conversations about annual giving and letter campaign procedures (which is what I had in mind when writing it). Some are not in development… and the post started great conversations with them about their own work, their parenting struggles, and so on.

But that’s the great thing about this cupcake story: the lessons are transferable and fairly universal.

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