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I’ve phoned many people I don’t know for assignments but I’ve never made a cold call

The headline sums it up: In years (actually decades) of developing a freelance / consulting writing and research practice, I’ve made thousands of phone calls.

In many instances, I have phoned people I have never met in any way. Other phone calls are repeat calls to individuals I don’t otherwise know, having never seen them in person. Still, none of those calls have truly been “cold.”

For starters, I make all calls myself. I am genuinely interested in the success of the people I call, and I believe my interest and even enthusiasm show in my voice, including the voicemail messages I leave. My attitude in itself adds warmth to the contact.

Sometimes someone has referred me to the individual. It may be a genuine referral, or it may be that the person answering the phone said I had called the wrong number and forwarded my call to a more likely contact. I will tell the second person that the first contact recommended that I call them . . . technically true but not exactly a message of undying love and admiration.

Often it is a warm call because of where I found the name. It may be from a membership directory for an association to which I belong. (Calling someone in your paid-membership organization is a form of networking, not cold calling, as far as I am concerned.)

It may be a fellow practitioner of my service or a fellow member of a LinkedIn group or Yahoo list or a fellow professional in my industry. I may acknowledge the person I call as the author or expert cited in a published article I read.

It may be a service provider offering a service that is complementary to mine, such as a web designer or a published research company.

It may be someone whose work I admire and with whom I would like to work.

All of these factors warm up the relationship so that none of these calls are truly cold.

To me, the term “cold calling” is not a negative, but I’ve learned over time that others are quite put off by the concept. So I have largely dropped the words from my vocabulary in favor of “phoning” or even “targeted phoning.”

By the way, you should know that I am an introvert. There is absolutely no reason an introvert cannot make phone calls.

Let’s clarify the difference between an introvert and an extrovert. Introverts re-energize themselves by spending time alone. Extroverts re-energize themselves in the company of others. Introverts typically develop ideas by thinking about them while extroverts typically develop ideas through conversation with others.

This does not mean that introverts cannot carry on a conversation with others. We do just fine on the phone, in live networking and in other business development situations if we care to develop our skills.

Originally posted 3-5-14

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