The art of the cold call

by WKeown under CC BY2.0 licenseThe art of the cold call:

  • target well
  • have your key selling points in front of you

 

It doesn’t have to be a call; any contact without introduction counts as a cold call. This is how I got my first jobs, and it’s how I’ve broken into new markets. Dollars to donuts, cold calls offer the single greatest return on investment out of my whole marketing toolbox. (Building a reputation and visibility are big tools in my toolbox.)

 

A cold call can be a phone call, an email, a tweet, an actual paper letter

Target well

Who publishes material that matches your skills? You’ve got to do the research. Mention specific titles when you make your pitch.
Ask whomever you contact, who the right person is to speak to. Not only does this take the pressure off the hard-sell tone, it helps you apply effort where it matters most. In fact, if you can’t find a contact at a company you really want to work for, ask HR or the secretary who you should talk to ā€” at the top of your full message. They’ll give you a better target if they know more about you.

 

Keep it brief

How many emails are in your inbox? I expect anyone I contact to be utterly swamped. Use journalism style to help your message get read:
Vital bits first (even in the subject line)
Key info in the first line of each paragraph
Short paragraphs

If you can keep the entire thing to under one screen, or one minute, even better.

 

Highlight your subject expertise

Maybe it’s a hobby, maybe an obsession, maybe you have a degree in it . Subject expertise increases your appeal. Sometimes having workmen on n such titles before is a selling point; other times a client doesn’t want you to have worked for the competition. Be ready to mention other subject areas if this contact proves to be of the second type.

 

Offer help

Don’t ask for a job. Tell them you like their work and would like to offer help. Provide your resume or links to your online portfolio, and an idea of when you’ll be available.

 

End with something helpful

Preferably a link to something you wrote, but anything relevant to the field, market, or subject will help.

 

Signature blocks need key info

  • your phone number
  • your email
  • your qualifications (degree or certification)
  • your website or social media profile link
  • your professional memberships

 

Here are nine practical tips on making cold calls. It’s from the POV of a journalist pitching a story, but adaptable to any freelancers purpose.

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