Mark Atkinson – Content Writer
I was recently involved in a breakfast networking initiative. Part of the process was a 10-minute slot from the designated training member of the group – each session looking at a different aspect of improving ones networking skills.
“Put your hand up if you like cold calling,” she asked on one occasion. Of course, it was a loaded question, and there was only one hand that went up – mine.
Yes, it’s true. I actually enjoy picking up the phone and talking to a complete stranger to make a contact and develop business – but as a freelance writer running my own business, with a difference. I completely understand how cold calling forms a core function of more ‘sales-orientated’ industries – but let’s face it, halfway through the first sentence you can detect the nature of most cold calls at 100 paces.
Networking groups have their own benefits its true. Of course they’re not perfect – particularly those driven by peer pressure on who is or isn’t publically performing in terms of the business they’re generating for other members. Certain industries may fare better from such groups and others worse, depending on their nature or accessibility. Printing, travel or recruitment firms tend to fair well for example – photographers, web designers, copywriters or other ‘creative’ professions less so, because they need more time to gain acceptance and prove the skills of their craft.
Even then, the referrals you receive may not be those you’re looking for. My own experience as a freelance writer, my business development calls frequently turn into 20 minute conversations and are focused on a particular person and industry I want to connect with for a completely targeted purpose.
First, with no offence intended to some industries that may sometimes be less transparent in their agenda, state very clearly who you are, what you do and why you’re calling.
Second, target whoever you’re ringing very specifically and have a convincing proposition in every case. 20 minutes for a cold call may not be generally considered as time-effective coverage, but quality beats quantity.
Does cold calling prevail over networking, or vice versa? Both have their virtues and pitfalls – both can be targeted or aimless. The main thing is to reach people in the way that hits the spot. How you achieve that is horses for courses – networking is all well and good in its own way, but never discount the good old fashioned method of doing your homework and picking up the phone.
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Mark Atkinson - Content Writer