I make no apologies for it: When I advise on how to start a freelancing or consulting practice quickly, I recommend phoning large numbers of people.
It’s sad when I talk to people who tell me calling hasn’t worked for them. They fill me in on what each person said for all 10 calls they made and conclude it’s hopeless.
Sorry. Ten calls are way too few. Generally speaking, the only individuals who will give you assignments are those who have assignments to give, either now or in the near future. And you don’t know which people have assignments until you call them.
You should be calling so many people that you don’t remember the status of each call without checking your notes.
And yes, you need to keep records. A database or spreadsheet is necessary to organize details and prepare for future callbacks.
Sure, it is remotely possible that you can convince someone to create a brand new undertaking, but this is far less likely than winning assignments that are already in the works.
So the best prospects are those who are already generating assignments.
Even better are those who are generating assignments and have already worked with solopros. Yes, the downside is that they may have someone they already have a relationship with and always use for such work. But the upside is that they are comfortable working with solopros; in the corporate world, they have procedures and work patterns in place.
Now having said all this, I’m going to take it back in a way.
Quality beats quantity.
You want to phone people with enough rank in the organization to hire solopros. People who are in the appropriate industries and functions to value your services.
Sometimes you can’t tell for sure. In that case, might as well make the call. It doesn’t take long and it just may pay off.
But don’t waste time calling people you already know are a waste of time. Achieving high numbers of useless calls is not the answer.
Sometimes it is challenging to identify people to call. That’s why you should be on the lookout for contact sources all the time.
I once met in person with someone who offered to help me out. He rolled through his Rolodex, handing me names (and phone numbers) to contact. He called it “more fields to plow.”
Yes, we must keep finding more fields. And keep plowing.