So I’ve often found that when talking about cold calling with friends, colleagues and even people I’ve met for the first time, I see similar reactions. People cringe. They tense up. They mostly agree that it is not pleasant idea.
So why do people do it? Because it is often an untapped form of networking. You can make connections with people you probably would not cross paths with in your regular day and find out about a professional field you are interested in firsthand.
But why is it so scary? Simply put it is hard for people to put themselves out there, get out of their comfort zone and try something different. I would argue that, while there is reason to get uncomfortable with the idea of picking up a phone and calling a stranger, the reward far outweighs the cost. We need to realize that the benefit of reaching out and creating another professional contact is worth the discomfort.
I remember being really interested in international relations as an undergraduate, but I wanted to know more. So after consulting a former colleague of mine in government I looked up some names at the Department of Foreign Affairs, did a little research and called some individuals who were working in areas I was interested in. It was refreshing to talk to real life people and not just rely on books or the internet. I do need to say that some people did decline to speak to me or meet for a coffee but there were a handful that were very amenable to talking with me and sharing their career paths and experiences.
I deeply valued the opportunity to hear from people about the challenges and triumphs in their field. It gave me a really clear picture of what a job in that sector could look like. And it helped me assess if I wanted to pursue a job in that field.
Overall, I strongly believe that cold calling someone is an important opportunity to find out more about a particular field and job. I would encourage those of you reading to take a chance, pick up the phone, because you never know who you might reach on the other end.