Networking events and referrals are great but when it comes to battling the world that has no clue who you are or what you do, the coldest of the calls are ready to boost anxiety.
I try to warn my wife when such an event is going to take place. The reason I raise the awareness is that such an experience can be mentally trying. Days can be met with no’s but building relationships is sweet. Here is why I thrive on cold calls:
It forces me into a clouded mindset. Clouded in the sense that there’s no way for me to see where these conversations might go if one is to be had. It allows me to understand how to explain what design does. You know that conversation when you’re asked what it is you do for a living? Often I am met with ‘oh you make websites’. While this may or may not be true, we all have an expertise that we thrive on and now is my chance to show what I am made of.
They can be demoralizing but that doesn’t have to be the case. In a previous life I worked in education sales. The president of the company referred to sales as a “noble profession” which I never quite understood. A knight is noble, in my mind, and sales can make us cringe. Even though I have a portfolio for a lance and self confidence for a shield, I still have to expose the value of good design. The noble thing to do is homework. There are so many tools available to help us understand what a prospect or customer does before I even show up. Who wants to relive their impromptu speech class? No thanks.
Cold calls are humbling! A true reality check in knowing how fortunate I am to have clients. I have literally gone door to door for specific industries and while I have made new friends and contacts it reminds me of how powerful my current partnerships are. Organizations I have designed for have paid me to help them. I should be thanking them all time! I love these people and flattered that I get to be apart of their journey.
Lastly, the idea is for me to aid in problem solving. I spoke of problem solving in a previous post and how it is the most important skill. We thrive on winning ideas and we fail under unsolved problems. If we can work together to solve a problem, let’s do it! Problem solving is an open forum of idea and logic and sometimes solving one problem leads to solving another.
Social media can certainly help in the cold call process but it does not replace getting in front of people. Walking into a room where you know no one and leaving knowing someone is a win. The online presence is important but how can I know if anyone is reading this or putting value into ‘liking’ something I have posted? That’s where the coldest of the calls brings out the emotional value.
I’ve wandered trade shows in hopes of learning about new industries and how I might fit in. What I found instead are professionals looking to bring people into their respective industry for a stronger network. Leads lead to more leads (that’s a lot of leads).
As I’ve always reminded myself, the worst case scenario is a shut door. On to the next.