Why cold calling is so much easier than online social networking (honest!)

Ever wonder why telephoning (commonly referred to as “cold calling”) is so much easier than social networking for obtaining freelance or consulting assignments?

Probably not.

Most people think social online networking—Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, but especially Twitter for the sake of discussion here—is far easier. No matter how much time it gobbles up, there’s no rejection. There’s no risk, even when we are slumped over our computer, bleary eyed, at 2 a.m. or frittering away an energy peak at 9 a.m.

Yes, there’s no rejection. That’s because there’s no meaningful feedback. Even when someone doesn’t respond to our message, we know from our own scattered tweeting to think nothing of it.

(Actually, I don’t interpret a “no” when I am phoning as rejection, but let’s save that story for another day.)

If you’ve been studying contemporary marketing for any time at all, you’ve run across the concept that marketing is about getting people to know, like and trust you. The collective “they” argue that all three must take place for people to hire you for pay.

Twitter theoretically starts with know, but in practice it starts with like. You don’t really know that much about people you start following—perhaps you glance at their website but more likely you don’t—so you start with the chitchat. That develops the like. Then maybe you backtrack and dip into the know.

But it’s the trust you really want to develop if you are building a business on Twitter. You want to bring the relationship to the place where they offer you an assignment and trust that you will finish it on time with a quality product and not disappear with their deposit.

How do you transition from like to trust? More specifically, to the kind of trust that generates income-producing assignments?

Ah, that is the challenge.

How do you engineer the transition so they don’t feel they have been manipulated with like into an uncomfortable pitch to hire you for a paid assignment? The answer probably involves the phone, but this transition can feel so awkward.

It is darn rare to get hired for any type of project solely on the basis of short messages. If you are selling a complex service, it’s almost impossible to compress your story into 140 characters.

Twitter requires a sharp turn in the road. And while a lot is written on how to develop a Twitter presence, not much attention is paid to this highly nuanced transition.

Telephoning is widely criticized, but its beauty is in its directness. You know what you will say when you dial. Start with a minimal amount of know by introducing yourself and your qualifications quickly. Postpone the like till later. Then develop the trust by discussing any assignments or work-style questions they may introduce.

No finesse needed. You are open about the purpose of the call—paying assignments—and proceed in a straight line to the call’s conclusion. No wonder cold calling is so much easier than social networking.

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