Executive Job Search Cold Calling & Networking: 8 Secrets to Success

Even the most savvy sales and marketing people can get cold feet when faced with cold calling. After all, no one wants to be rejected, avoided, hung up on, bullied by gatekeepers, or faced with that uncomfortable moment when they realize they just backed someone into a corner by asking them if they are hiring or know of someone who is.

Before my resume writing and coaching business, I ran an executive recruiting firm. This is where I learned all of my best phone networking and cold call follow up secrets. I had to make hundreds of phone calls, year after year. I learned what worked and what didn’t when “phone networking.” And now I can share what I learned with job seekers to help them approach networking opportunities and cold or warm calling with ease, professionalism and excitement. There is a trick to it, but it’s not hard to learn – even for shy and introverted types (like myself).

Here are 8 tips that can help you get more interviews and offers:

  1. Speak in terms of results. If you are approaching a key decision maker in a company “cold,” you must learn to speak their language and understand that the only reason they are going to want to talk with you is because you can make or save them money. Thus, you have to first understand how to translate your skills to %% and $$. Human Resources does not speak this language; they are oriented to matching skills and tasks.
  2. Think what you do can never be quantified. Think again. For most positions, no one would have hired you if you hadn’t ended up making or saving them money.
  3. Front load your introduction. When trying to get past the gatekeeper, state the facts immediately so the usual back-and-forth cadence of “may I say who is calling please” etc., is broken. Say: “Hi, this is Mary Elizabeth Bradford, President of Career Artisan, calling for John Smith in regards to our correspondence please.” You will get through more often if you stay in control.
  4. Overcome objections. If your key contact says you need to talk to HR, say: “I respect what you are saying, but HR is usually not interested in talking about how I might save or make you money; rather, they are focused on how my hard and soft qualifications match your open positions. I would like to focus on how I might actually affect your bottom line. Would you be open to taking a meeting with me to explore that?”
  5. Express your esteem. When calling someone for the first time, the single best thing you can do to ensure a good outcome is begin with a genuine compliment about them or their company. It shows you are focused and purposeful. You are putting the focus on THEM, not YOU (always a smart move), setting a positive tone, and acknowledging them as a guide/mentor/expert. Flattering.
  6. Aim high. When calling a key contact, be brave and aim high. It is easier to go down the chain of command than to start low and go up without permission. You are in a stronger position when your information comes from the president to a subordinate. Finally, key executives are visionaries in companies and understand value propositions, so they are best suited to take those calls versus busy mid-managers focused on tasks. Of course, you see I am emphasizing that you have to know how to translate your value – and I write extensively about how to do this on my website.
  7. Keep it simple. When you are networking you are networking – not job searching. These are two different activities! You must embrace and accept that. You are networking for information, for mentoring, and to ask for additional networking contacts. If you do it right, not only will you get all these things (which can and will help you tremendously in your career search), but you will probably get “solicited” by potential employers who are interested in you and asked for your resume. It is always the stronger position to be pursued.
  8. Leave your resume at home. When you are networking never, ever, ever bring your resume with you. If they ask for your resume and you have one during your networking meeting, you will look as disingenuous as you will feel. Tell them you would be happy to send it to them by hard mail or email.

BONUS TIP: Stand up and smile. When you are talking on the phone, people can hear it, and your energy level will naturally rise.

Mary Elizabeth Bradford is the Founder and Executive Director of CEOresumewriter.com and Maryelizabethbradford.com and a past executive recruiter. A thought leader in the career services industry for over 20 years, she holds 5 distinct advanced certifications for senior-level resume writing, online branding and executive-level job search coaching (CERM, CMRW, CARW, MCD, NCOPE). She has been seen and heard in major media including Forbes, Time, WSJ, Newsweek and NBC affiliate stations. She holds 2 CDI TORI awards and is a top tier judge for the elite CDI TORI awards for four consecutive years. Mary Elizabeth Bradford’s elite team of award-winning, certified, top executive resume writers, former top executive recruiters, and global HR executives help many of the world’s premier C-suite, board members and thought leaders secure the transitions and compensation packages they want. She works with clients all over the globe.

If you are a Director, VP, CxO, or Board Member interested in an executive resume package or working directly with Mary Elizabeth, click to schedule a complimentary 15-minute call.