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On this episode of Bloomerang TV, Cheri Hill, President of Sage International, stops by to share networking tips for fundraisers and nonprofiteers.

Full Transcript:

Steven: Hey there. Welcome to this week’s episode of Bloomerang TV. Thanks for tuning in. My name is Steven and as always, I’m here as the host. I’m the VP of Marketing here on Bloomerang. And I’m really excited to introduce our guest. She is Cheri Hill. She is the president of Sage International over in Reno, Nevada. Hey, Cheri. How is it going?

Cheri: Excellent. Thank you, Steven. It’s a pleasure.

Steven: Thanks for being here. This will be fun. Can you tell us a little bit about the stuff you do at Sage International? What is Sage?

Cheri: So we actually form companies. So I work with all kinds of individuals. Obviously, we met, because I do a lot of work in the nonprofit world, that for-profit, nonprofit, work with real estate investors, professionals, entrepreneurs to make sure that once you decide that you’re going to go into business that you have the proper foundation put into place. And then once you’re in business, I do a ton of continuing education to make sure that you stay in business.

Steven: Cool, very cool. So we met actually a couple of weeks ago at the Alliance of Nevada Nonprofits Conference in Reno, Nevada. And I was a speaker there, and you were also a speaker. And you gave the most awesome, I think, conference activity/workshop that I ever seen, and it was totally needed. It was very necessary. So you gave basically a networking activity for all of the fundraisers there in attendance. Can you talk about the actual activity, and what you did, and what you had us do?

Cheri: Yes, so I consider I’m a facilitator for teaching a lot about effective networking and that’s really the key, it’s effective networking. And so it’s an exercise where Steven, you had been in enough workshops and seminars as have I for many years, and what I have found interesting is you can spend all day in a room with the same people and by the end of the day maybe you know one or two.

So I like to shortcut the process and make sure that we give the people the ability to really network at a deeper level, make connections and you have to do that by getting everybody up out of their chair, facing each other, and really helping them understand how to effectively network.

So it’s a lot of fun. It just raises the energy in the room, and people are more confident for the rest of the event to reach out to people that maybe they normally wouldn’t have reach out to.

Steven: Yeah. I feel if you haven’t given that activity, everyone at the conference, maybe they would have talked to the person they sat next to at lunch, but they wouldn’t have talked to nearly as many people as they would have because of what you did. And it seems like this is a bigger issue for fundraisers, because so much of fundraising is this one-to-one personal communication. Can you talk a little bit about that, why fundraisers, in particular, should really up their networking skills and care about this?

Cheri: Well, anytime that you’re out in your community trying to let people know about your organization, and that obviously, you’re looking for money or other resources that you need as a fundraiser, and so by understanding the core principles of what that means. It’s all about relationship and building relationship. And so through that exercise at the conference, I show you how to do it very quickly so that you don’t spend a lot of time wasting people’s time or talking to people that are never going to help in your fundraising activities. So for me, it’s really all about there are three distinct things related to effective networking.

So first is visibility. You have to be seen. So how involved are you in your community, other organizations, people that you network with, so that they see you. You’re out, you’re about, they’re getting to know you.

The second is credibility. Once you built relationship with people now you have the opportunity to do what you say, walk your walk, talk your talk, and make sure that people really understand that you are responsible. You have integrity.

And only once you’ve built the visibility which moves to credibility, now you can move into profitability. And most people want to go from visibility to profitability, and they haven’t built the relationship.

Sometimes it can take years. Sometimes it can take months. For a fundraiser, you’re trying to move to hey, I just met you. Now I want you to give me money. And you have to understand there’s a process.

Steven: Right. One piece of that process and you talked about this is this idea of an elevator pitch. So what’s an elevator pitch, and why is it important?

Cheri: So it’s called many things, your 60 second commercial, your elevator pitch, your unique selling proposition. So for anybody, when we’re talking about I just met you, we’re at a function, we’re networking, maybe I’m in a grocery store, I don’t know. It’s how do you engage in initial conversation.

So if I’m meeting you for the first time, and you say to me, “I’m Steve, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You’ve got the attention, right? So we’re trying to move you to where you can say, “Hi, this is who I am. This is the company I work for. This is the problem that I solve. This is why I’m special and unique, and maybe I’m someone you’re going to want to get to know better.

So the 60-second commercial is a way to really engage me in a short initial conversation so that when it’s over, I go, “You know what? Maybe we should meet for coffee. I want to learn more about what you’re doing.” And through that process, now the relationship really begins.

Steven: Do you find that most, and you talk to a lot of different people, not just fundraisers, do you find that most people have that elevator pitch down? Do you find that most do but maybe it needs a little bit of work? What’s kind of the landscape look like there? Is it a totally foreign idea?

Cheri: It’s foreign to a lot of people. I mean if you’re in sales, you pretty much understand it. Anybody else pretty much doesn’t. And it’s really what is it that you can say to me when I first meet you that’s going to compel me to want to have or continue on this conversation.

And it’s the hook, right? So it’s your message and especially for people working in the nonprofit world. I mean to me it’s almost easier, because you have a cause of purpose. You have a mission. And if I’m someone that resonates with that, I’m going to be more interested to learn more.

Steven: Right.

Cheri: How you present that and speak is definitely important.

Steven: And you talk about sales, fundraising, it’s not really a popular thing to say, but fundraising is sales in a lot of ways. So it seems like having that elevator pitch down would be really important.

Cheri: And again, we’re only talking about something very short that you can share with me in a minute. Every single one of us has experienced the individual where you go, “Hi. Who are you? What do you do? What’s your company? And then they ramble on for any length of time, and they’ve lost us. That’s not our goal here.

Steven: So you are a fundraiser. You’re going to an event. You’ve got your elevator pitch down. You’ve rehearsed it. It sounds great. What else should someone do? What other kinds of things should someone have, maybe their attire, how they present themselves? What are those things that will really up someone’s networking game?

Cheri: Right. So, you know, we’re all familiar with the first impression. So how you present yourself, how you represent your organization, I mean, obviously, you need to have business cards. You need to look great. You need to, depending on the event or where you’re going, you also need to be really aware of the fact that networking is really more what can I do for you than what can you do for me.

So when you go into any type of event, board meeting, whatever, and you’re going to have the opportunity to meet new people, really if you come at it with how can I help you get what you need next, then obviously, it’s a lot easier for you to help me get what I need next. And that’s kind of the twist that I teach on the networking.

Steven: Love it. Very good. Yeah, that’s helpful. If you give a little, you’ll get a lot back, right?

Cheri: Yes. And of course, in the nonprofit world, they all have great stories. So that’s why I say it’s a little bit easier, because if you just even come in with say, you know, here is an example of who we just helped last week. Here was the result and the benefit. That’s a lot easier than sometimes people in the for-profit world, because we’re trying to sell you something.

Steven: Love it. Well, Cheri, these are awesome tips. Hopefully everyone watching this, yeah, you’re going to be a better networking now. Work on your elevator pitch and try to give help rather than ask for help. I think you’ll get more in return for doing that. So Cheri, just in the last few minutes, could you tell people where they can learn more about you and Sage International?

Cheri: Yes. So anyone that’s obviously wanting to start a nonprofit or any type of business or has one and just needs some additional help and resources, you can certainly go out to my website at sageintl.com. I do offer a free thirty-minute consultation. And you can reach me at 1-800-254-5779. And I also have a weekly radio show, Steven, which airs all throughout. It’s webcast all throughout the world, and it’s called the Cheri Hill Show.

Steven: The Cheri Hill Show. We’ll link to all of that. We’ll post all of that info, and if you have an event, you’ve got to have Cheri come out and get this activity. It was just a blast. It was fun, and it set the tone for the rest of the day. It was really useful.

Cheri: And it’s funny. I walked into the ladies’ room, and there were these two women and they were networking. They looked right at me and said, “See, we’re practicing.” They never would have reached out to each other, so it was kind of fun to watch and see for the rest of the day. And like I said, the level of engagement goes deeper because now they’ve been presented the tools to be able to do it more effectively.

Steven: Very cool. Cheri, thanks so much for being here. This was a lot of fun. And check out all of Cheri’s stuff. And be sure to tune in next week. We’ll have a new interview for you from someone super smart just like Cheri, giving you some tips for your nonprofit. So tune in next week. We will catch you then. Bye now.

Cheri: Bye.

Kristen Hay

Kristen Hay

Marketing Manager at Bloomerang
Kristen Hay is the Marketing Manager at Bloomerang. From 2018 - 2020, she served as the Director of Communications for the Public Relations Society of America's local Hoosier chapter. Prior to that she served on several different committees and in committee chair roles.
Kristen Hay