Today I’m reading a blog I really enjoy. It’s called Cold calling for wimps: One writer’s terrifying quest to jump-start a commercial writing business by calling 1,000 strangers on the phone. The writer is Sarah Maurer.
There’s lots to like about this blog but let’s start with the basics. She set out to follow the advice of Peter Bowerman, author of The Well-Fed Writer, and made 461 calls before she got too busy to make even more calls.
I love her fun, chatty style and I love her honesty. She’s totally open not only on the number of calls she has completed, but also on what she says and how it works and the days with no results.
Here’s something else I like: I saw the phrase “courageous marketing” and it really tickles me. (Alas, the courageous marketing [dot] com domain name is already claimed.)
For me, it really gets to the heart of phoning for business. Especially the first time you do it, it takes courage to pick up the phone and call a stranger.
What if they’re furious? What if they hang up on me? What if they swear at me? What if they report me? (And to whom, exactly?)
Actually, none of these fears pan out. One call-ee has hung up on me and no one else has been angry. Guess it’s because I’m such a nice person.
And because I only call people who may need my services.
And because I get to the point and explain why I’m calling without a lot of glitzy but empty hype.
And because I make all my calls myself.
And because I only phone during business hours.
And because I always think of some type of answer, maybe great, maybe so-so, to any question I am asked. (We all pull through under pressure.)
Oh, yeah, and because my work is really really good and I reach for the highest standards.
So if we soon discover that the worst case scenario is unlikely, then why the fear?
Could it be the fear of getting an assignment?
Freelancing and consulting can be scary. At our old “regular” jobs, we knew what to expect each day. Over time we learned more about the company and our role in the company, and everything got progressively easier.
Being a solopro is quite the opposite. While our skills continue to grow—and to grow faster than they did at our job—we never feel totally comfortable with a new prospect or a new client.
Every company and every client is different. Often we don’t see the person live and have no visual cues on how they perceive us. It’s quite easy to interpret the assignment differently from how the client does because we may know so little about them yet have to portray confidence that we can do it!
Plus there’s the money issue of proposing a price and deciding how to negotiate when there’s so much we don’t know about the other party.
Realistically speaking, it’s not the cold calling that’s scary. It’s what happens after they engage in conversation with us. And it’s what happens as we undertake the freelancing or consulting assignment itself.
Freelancing and consulting are for courageous people. They don’t require an extraordinary amount of courage but they require some courage. And it’s definitely worthwhile to build our courage muscle by exercising it.
The opportunities are intellectually stimulating, professionally challenging, lucrative and even fun. We can do it!