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Cold contacts and even colder beer . . .

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Cold contacts and even colder beer . . .

Postby Dave Jensen » Sun May 20, 2018 11:08 am

Hi Forum,

I spoke with a candidate the other day who was telling me that he had "found" me by the process of networking, and I spoke with him for a few minutes about his process. He was doing cold-call networking, reaching out to people where there are mutual areas of interest but not necessarily any mutual contacts. Those kinds of calls are so important in a job search -- but difficult to do.

He confessed that he can only manage to make cold calls when he's had a few beers. Frankly, he was a bit bubbly and friendly, but I couldn't notice that he'd "enjoyed a few." While I don't think he should have shared this information with me, I did agree that sometimes alcohol can bring down the curtain that separates us from our truly outgoing side. The introvert with a couple of beers may have the guts to reach out and make connections that he or she didn't have the courage to manage earlier.

I think there must be a better way. No one wants to recommend alcohol to people who are doing something as serious as looking for a job.

How is it that the Forum members have found "cold call networking" and can it be done by an introvert? For me, I've always made a bit of a game out of it. I know that it only takes ten calls for me to reach a prospective candidate for a position, so I don't mind talking to nine people who shut me down with a quick "no thanks." I know that my average is approaching and that the numbers game aspect of the process will soon lead to success.

Dave
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Re: Cold contacts and even colder beer . . .

Postby Rich Lemert » Sun May 20, 2018 2:10 pm

Although my wife and my son will disagree, I still consider myself an introvert. I am still uncomfortable, for example, going up to strangers at a party and engaging in small-talk. I, too, have trouble 'cold-calling' people - especially in a job-hunting situation. (I know I 'talk a good-game' in this forum, but I've never considered myself a strong job-hunter.)

One of the things that has helped me is recognizing how often I perform an 'equivalent' act in my daily life. When you think about it, for example, there's not much difference between cold-calling a potential hiring manager and walking up to someone at a hardware store to ask for advice on how to perform a home repair.

I've also been helped by the fact that I've had to talk to strangers as part of every job I've ever had - whether they were a client I was trying to help or a co-worker I was trying to get to help me do something. The process is really the same, and you don't have to already be employed to have opportunities to practice. As a graduate student, you should be meeting others in your field, or talking to colleagues at other institutions to ask questions about their work.

I'll also take advantage of this opportunity to put in another plug for Toastmasters. Joining a Toastmasters club will not turn you into an extrovert if you aren't already one, but it will help you develop the skills you need to 'act' as if you were one in an 'extroverted' world. It will do this mostly by allowing you to have plenty of opportunities to practice the necessary skills, but in a safe and supporting environment.
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Re: Cold contacts and even colder beer . . .

Postby Dick Woodward » Sun May 20, 2018 4:15 pm

Let's face it - cold calling is an unnatural act. You are inflicting yourself on someone who does not know you, and as far as they are concerned, their life is proceeding just fine without you in it. It can be scary, but that's no reason not to do it.

The biggest reason that people dislike cold calling is the fear of rejection. As the caller, you have to realize that the person saying "go away and never darken my door again" is not rejecting you, they are actually reflecting their own insecurity about talking to total strangers. Most people like to help when approached properly.

Being able to talk to strangers is not innate - it is a learned behavior. When you were a kid, your parents probably told you not to talk to strangers. Dave Jensen will not believe this, but as a kid I was pretty shy. Additionally, I was big for my age and that came with its own set of issues. However, my summer job during college was in sales, so I quickly learned how to talk to total strangers and find out what was on their minds. Amazing the number of really interesting people that you meet when you are open to it!

Rich Lemert's comment about Toastmasters is also a good one. While I have never attended a meeting, people that I know who have say that it is an excellent way to perfect your speaking skills.

So - my advice is to go forth and cold call. After a bit, you will get pretty good at it.

Dick
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Re: Cold contacts and even colder beer . . .

Postby Dave Jensen » Sun May 20, 2018 5:35 pm

Rich -- I consider Toastmasters one of my smartest decisions. While I am no longer active, it helped me so much. I also took a (paid, and a bit expensive) course called the Dale Carnegie Course and it was even more effective, but they price it for corporate execs and not postdocs.

Dave
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Re: Cold contacts and even colder beer . . .

Postby D.X. » Wed May 23, 2018 2:18 am

Dick Woodward wrote:Let's face it - cold calling is an unnatural act. You are inflicting yourself on someone who does not know you, and as far as they are concerned, their life is proceeding just fine without you in it. It can be scary, but that's no reason not to do it.

The biggest reason that people dislike cold calling is the fear of rejection. As the caller, you have to realize that the person saying "go away and never darken my door again" is not rejecting you, they are actually reflecting their own insecurity about talking to total strangers. Most people like to help when approached properly.

Being able to talk to strangers is not innate - it is a learned behavior. When you were a kid, your parents probably told you not to talk to strangers. Dave Jensen will not believe this, but as a kid I was pretty shy. Additionally, I was big for my age and that came with its own set of issues. However, my summer job during college was in sales, so I quickly learned how to talk to total strangers and find out what was on their minds. Amazing the number of really interesting people that you meet when you are open to it!

Rich Lemert's comment about Toastmasters is also a good one. While I have never attended a meeting, people that I know who have say that it is an excellent way to perfect your speaking skills.

So - my advice is to go forth and cold call. After a bit, you will get pretty good at it.

Dick


Loved this post.

I too am a introvert. Though like Rich, many don't perceive that exactly to Dick's point about learned behavior and need to adapt. I can spend time doing "extroverted" activities such as cold-calling etc. but I need to regress back to my introvert state to find my energy again.

What I do, is I take a few moments to myself just to gear up. Few breaths work and get my brain ready for that engagement. If I present I'll take a few moments just to breathe. Clear my mind and get preped. I wont be the social butterfly before that engagment. If i'm phone calling before I dial i take a few moments - ready what I have to say, take a couple breaths and move on. I don't need alcohol.

If there is an opportunity with a cold call - as part of introduction at the begining I'll try to make light of something - weather or perhaps comment on geographic location just to initiate a brief point of commonality or ice-breaking. Usually the toughest part of the call is the first minute so its getting over that minute. Then its genearall smooth sailing in terms of the conversation is going, there is not more time to think about the up-coming situation cause you're in it. And that helps.

Same for opening up a presentation, i open with something light - not related just to get over those first 20 seconds.

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