Networking: The Art Of The Cold Call (Or E-mail)

When you hear the words “cold call,” you probably associate them with the words “cold sweat.” Calling someone you don’t know, or even sending an introductory e-mail, can be terrifying for even the most expert networker. Of course, a cold call or e-mail isn’t ideal, but it can be necessary.

Networking: The Art Of The Cold Call (Or E-mail)

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When you hear the words “cold call,” you probably associate them with the words “cold sweat.” Calling someone you don’t know, or even sending an introductory e-mail, can be terrifying for even the most expert networker. Of course, a cold call or e-mail isn’t ideal, but it can be necessary.

Your goal should always be to explore potential warm connections. When you find that person you’re dying to network with and/or talk to about a potential job, you’ll scour LinkedIn, Facebook, Google, and any other resource you can find to locate someone in your network who may be able to introduce you to your target individual. Unfortunately, though six degrees might work when it comes to Kevin Bacon, it’s not always possible to connect yourself directly with the individuals you want to network with.

It’s these times when you’re going to have to take the big leap and do what the sales industry calls “cold calling.” When you only have an e-mail address and/or phone number, and no other connections, it’s up to you to make the best effort possible to catch someone’s attention and get the response you’re hoping for. In the world of technology, though, a cold call isn’t always a cold call. It might be a cold e-mail, a Tweet, or a LinkedIn message. However, there are tactics you can employ in order to ensure your voicemail is returned and to increase the likelihood of your e-mail or social media message receiving a response.

Cold calling is all about being concise and clear while immediately establishing to your target that you are someone she will want to get to know. To keep your call or e-mail script simple, follow the formula G.I.R.L.S.

G – Greet Your Target I – Identify Yourself R – Make Your Request L – Link Your Need to Their Work S – Suggest a Next Step

Let’s consider the networking plight of an imaginary woman named Amy Mancini. Amy is currently in sales with a big box retailer, let’s say Target. She’s hoping to transition, though, to a company more focused on cosmetics and beauty as a whole, because she’s found that portion of her job is what excites her most. She’s found the perfect connection at Ulta Beauty in Chicago, Illinois, but unfortunately none of her contacts can help her get in the door. How will she position her ask?

Example A – Voicemail:

Good Morning, Patty. My name is Amy Mancini. I’m interested in learning more about what you do and your work at Ulta, and I would love to meet you for coffee. I have a long history in retail sales with Target Corporation and currently manage relationships with cosmetics companies on behalf of Target. I’m interested learning more about companies focused directly on beauty. You can return my call at 555-555-5555. I’d be happy to meet you for coffee before your workday begins anytime in the next two weeks.

Example B – E-mail:

Subject: Coffee with a Connection in the Beauty Industry?

Ms. Smith,

Good morning! I hope this e-mail finds you well. I’m Amy Mancini, and I’m currently in cosmetics sales with Target Corporation and would like to meet you to learn more about your career path and your work at Ulta. I have a long history in big box retail sales and have recently considered transitioning to working inside a cosmetics company.

Could we schedule a phone call or perhaps a coffee meeting in the next few weeks? I know your expertise in the industry and your experience at Ulta could be incredibly valuable as I begin to make decisions about the types of positions I’m looking for and which companies might be the best fit for me. I have a passion for cosmetics and retail sales, and with so many avenues within the industry, I know the next step for me is to focus my search strategically. Could I suggest meeting for coffee near your office next week? My schedule is flexible and I look forward to meeting you.

Thanks so much!


In these examples, Amy has made her request clear, she’s been both respectful and complimentary to the receiver, and to close, she has made a request that lives appropriately between too vague and too specific. Just remember, G.I.R.L.S. – Greet.Identify.Request.Link.Suggest. – and you’ll never be afraid of a cold contact again.


Photo Credit: Shutterstock


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