Job seekers have a lot of networking resources at their disposal. Theoretically, it should be possible to either a) find connections that will introduce you to people to help with your job search, or b) introduce yourself to those contacts via social media. Despite this access, sometimes a cold call is the only way to speak to important job search resources. Most people hate the thought of calling someone they don’t know, but there are ways to prepare so you will be successful.
Here are seven tips to warm up your cold calls inspired via 100 Conversations for Career Success, the book I co-authored with Laura Labovich:
1. Always get the name of the person. It’s tough to try to get in touch with someone whose name you don’t know. Trying to reach a company to speak to the “hiring manager” for XYZ job probably won’t get you very far. Similarly, asking to speak to “the person in charge of sales” won’t inspire anyone to put you directly through.
2. Think about the best time to phone. Don’t we all have friends (or maybe colleagues) who always call to ask for something at 4:45 p.m. on a Friday afternoon or first thing on Monday morning? No one really wants to hear from you at those times, especially someone who does not know you.
3. Know what you offer. Why should this person want to talk to you? Can you help him solve a problem? It’s a good idea to uncover company pain points in advance and to make a list of what you know that might be useful to your contact. When you identify specific reasons to schedule a follow-up meeting that will pique the person’s interest, you will be well on your way to a successful networking meeting.
4. Ditch the pleasantries. Do you really care about the weather? Neither does your cold call target. Be cheerful, but get to the point and make sure you don’t lose your contact’s attention before you have a chance to get started.
5. Become allies with the phone gatekeepers. Most executive assistants consider it part of their jobs to prevent unwanted calls from reaching their bosses. Some will go to great lengths to screen calls. How can you overcome this obstacle? Think of ways to convince the person who answers the call to help you.
6. Prepare a toolkit. Isn’t it always easier to do things when you have a cheat sheet? Since you’ll be trying to connect on the phone, you have the opportunity to write notes and have them handy. Don’t squander this gift! Write down some notes—even a script—of what you want to say. Make sure you have your calendar at hand, and something to write notes. If you use a contact-tracking tool, such as FreshTransition, have easy access to it and any notes from it before you make your call.
7. Follow up. It’s your job to follow up with your contact. In fact, it’s always best to keep the follow up in your “court.” For example, if she says, “I may be free early in March,” you should say, “What’s the best way for me to be in touch with you to set up a time? Should I email you in mid-February and then follow up with a call if I don’t hear from you?”
When you prepare for cold calls and take control of the situation, you’ll feel better about your job search and have more opportunities to succeed with your networking.
Read the rest on my U.S. News & World Report column.
photo by Bob.Fornal