With our economy headed into a double-dip recession, with all economic indicators heading downward, this is going to be a challenging period for job hunters. Yet, we all know that some people are getting jobs. Are they better than you? No, they're just better at finding the jobs.
When you have exhausted your personal contacts, worked Facebook and LinkedIn to death and attended every networking event you could find and still don't have any viable job leads, it's time to start cold calling and meeting new people to invigorate your job search.
One of the most challenging skills to master is the ability to effectively cold call. Cold calling, by my definition, are calls made to people you have never met before where you are looking to establish a business relationship. It is truly the most difficult process in business.
Cold calling can be made either by sending a letter, e-mail, or phone call. I personally like calling a new contact. People today get way too many e-mails which can be daunting for most of us. I would never e-mail a person if you have never met them. It's not productive to send information to a potential contact via the e-mail and disrupt their personal space. In fact, if they do not know who you are they'll probably delete your e-mail without opening it or it will end up in their Spam folder.
Cold calling should be based on a marketing plan you have comprised. It is essential to have some sort of a game plan before you pick up the phone and start calling a prospect. This is what separates you from a whiney job seeker who doesn't get return calls from someone who gets return phone calls.
Once you identify who you are contacting do research to see if they have been honored for anything recently or have written any articles lately. This will give you some insight into how they think and may give you an advantage in your early communication with them. Compliment them on their achievements: make it about them, not you.
Know that these people you are calling on are extremely busy. They probably have piles of paper on their desk, fifty e-mails to be answered, and an almost full voice mail. This is the kind of environment we work in today and will continue for the foreseeable future. So remember whoever you are contacting cold is probably overworked, tired and bombarded by a number of other people who are trying to reach them.
When you are making a cold call by phone you may only reach a voice mail. If you do reach a voice mail then leave a short message of who you are, why you're calling and your telephone number. You may get a return phone call depending on the business ethics of who you are calling. Many successful executives will return calls out of courtesy but a number of business people will not. In most cases, you will have to call back a few times. Don't call back at the same time each time you call. Be creative and tenacious, but not annoying.
Companies are hiring people, just not at the pace people are losing jobs. Firms are always looking for new talent. The key is to be in the inner circle of hiring. I recognize that personal referrals into a company are easier and sometimes better when looking for a job, but it also limits your chance of getting a job. Personal referrals are quickly exhausted and then what do you do besides applying online as everyone else does?
You have nothing to lose by cold calling. Just make sure that you target the right people to call. Do your homework by knowing something about the person you are calling. Compliment them on an article they published or a promotion, something they feel good about and feel compelled to respond to you to thank you for acknowledging.
Be enthusiastic, confident and informed. This confidence and enthusiasm will be infectious. Whether you leave a voice mail or speak directly to the person you are attempting to reach by phone, make sure to make your proposition clear. The mission of a cold call is not to sell your goods on the spot, but to open the door with this person for dialog.
Great sales people make great cold calls. Take a cue from them. Meet with one of your friends who have made a career in selling and ask them what they do. This is not a time to sit back and wait for a phone call. Get out there and keep talking, until you get the job you want.