In job seeking, recruiting, sales, or any other industry in which you need occasionally to reach out to strangers in hopes of obtaining an opportunity – so, pretty much every industry – many people have had to make the dreaded “cold call.”
If you don’t take the right approach, the cold call can become quite awkward and – worst case scenario – annoy the recipient of the call.
Take these tips to ensure your cold call turns into a “warm call.”
1. Don’t show up completely out of the blue. If at all possible, find a common connection and ask to be introduced whether in person or simply over email. Or, have that common connection send a preliminary “heads up” to your target person so he or she will be expecting your call.
2. If an introduction isn’t possible, drop a name (just be sure to ask if that person minds you mentioning his name). You’d be surprised how a simple “I worked with so-and-so” can establish instant common ground and make the recipient more receptive to your call.
3. Use social media. If you have no common connection, use social media – LinkedIn or Twitter, for example – to open the lines of communication. You could even leave a comment on that person’s blog. When you finally get up the nerve to call, you will be familiar to the person you’re calling.
4. Do some research first. Know a little about the person you’re calling besides his job title and how he can help you. Just as a great interviewer wouldn’t interview a person without having done a little background research, you too should give yourself a leg up by knowing a little about his background and interests. These subjects may never come up in the conversation, but you will still know how to best communicate when you have a better picture of who the person is beyond job title.
5. Attend a common event. Is the person you want to speak with involved in any industry organizations? Attend those and introduce yourself. Then, when you call, mention the event.
Taking one or all of these approaches will keep your cold call from seeming “salesy,” and increase your hit rate exponentially.