Networking vs Cold Calling

Last week, Doug posted:

Rick, I was debating with a fellow networker today the pluses and minuses of networking to get referral leads vs. cold calling to get leads.

Networking takes a significant amount of time, and since you need to give to your network and spend time developing it, it could take months before you get a decent referral. Once you start getting them, they are of good quality referrals with a much higher hit rate.

With cold-calling it’s all a numbers game. How many cold-calls do I need to make to get a certain number of appointments to get a certain number of customers. While not glamorous if you work the system right it seems much more predictable.

The question is, can you really compare one to the other and decide which is best for your business? I tend to shy away from cold-calling because it’s not my strong suit, but how do I know that it might not be a better process when you look at the total amount of time spent cold-calling vs. the time spent over months to build your network.

I know the theory is that my network will grow exponentially and eventually will require less time for the amount of quality referrals it brings, but how do you really know?

Any hints?

Yes, but not anything that you want to hear. Make cold calls. Don’t stop networking. Don’t stop doing anything else. Do trade shows (from both directions). Do a blog. Do advertise and market. Do everything, but do everything to support your cold calling effort. Here’s why.

You can’t control whether there’s a networking event, trade show, or some other opportunity tomorrow, but if your plan says to make 20 calls between 9 and 11 tomorrow morning, you have absolute control over that whether or not it happens. I’ve made my calls from my office (Surprise!), my deck, the beach, my car, a coffee shop. If I’m committed, it happens.

You can stay focused. When you’re networking, it’s a two way street. They’re networking with you, too. So, you have to politely listen to their drivel before you can start telling them how awesome you are. (You know that’s not in my head, but don’t be surprised if you ever run into it in others.) When you’re making cold calls, it’s all about you. True, they may be trying to get you off the phone, but it’s different and planned for. You might find yourself actually getting interested in someone’s drivel at an event, and you forget what you’re there for.

I have an associate, Mike Eagan, who is very wise. One day, in his wisdom, he realized that “Successful people regularly do the things that they don’t like to do.” A lot of people prefer to network. Wine, cheese, chicken fingers, nice hotel or restaurant. You get none of that when you cold call.

When I started my collection agency, twenty years ago, I did no advertising and little networking. I went to little league, soccer, and basketball games and practices with my sons at night. I went to parent/teacher meetings, concerts, and plays. I was busy not networking, so I had to do something else. My plan was to make 30 cold calls starting at 9 every morning. 30. Not 29. Not however many I could make between 9 and noon. 30. Monday through Friday. Usually I was done by noon, but sometimes I was still calling at 2. I didn’t make appointments for mornings. If a prospect (or my dentist or anybody else) asked me for a morning meeting, I booked it three months out. If they were serious and needed me sooner, they’d find afternoon availability. I called every business in Holden. Then I called every business in Rutland, then Paxton, then Princeton, then West Boylston, then Sterling. Then I started calling businesses in Worcester, but I never finished. Here’s what happened. I know this is hard to believe, but my cold calling actually worked and I got clients. I was actually spending afternoons being billable. Go figure! I was also actually satisfying my clients, so I was getting a fair amount of referrals. Eventually I got to the point that I was getting enough referrals to reach my growth goals without cold calling and without networking. So I weaned myself from cold calls. Now, the only time that I make cold calls is when somebody asks, “Can you show me how to make a cold call?” and they pay me a ton of money. With all the humility and modest that I can muster, I’ll tell you that they are always impressed; it’s always worth the money to them; and I always have fun. Now, how come it worked for me?
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> I was one of Dave Kurlan’s first clients. I signed up when I was 32. I had been to engineering school and had my business degree. I was making money, but realized that I didn’t know it all. I became an avid student. I went to extra classes. I practiced. I asked questions. I got coaching. I hung out with and watched the best. No matter what anybody tells you, you cannot learn it alone. You need to read it, be shown it, have it explained to you, practice it, do it, have somebody watch you do it, have somebody tweak it, until it works. So, if you’d rather do anything, than make cold calls, you’re normal! Don’t sweat it! Call Mike Eagan, TODAY! Tell him you read my blog and you’re ready to be evaluated. Don’t be surprised if he says something like, “I’ll be the judge of that.”. Just suck it up and do what he says.

#1 rule………..Have fun!

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