EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

Just as an experiment, I unplugged my phone from my desk today and took it upstairs and put it on our bathroom scale. (My office is in my house.)

I am sure the scale is wrong because I couldn’t get the scale to even register the weight of the phone. But then, the scale is generally used to calculate my weight, and I guess the phone doesn’t weigh as much as I do.

If a phone did weigh as much as most folks seem to think it does, it would probably crush my desk or break my toe if I accidentally dropped it. I don’t know, perhaps the part you put up to your ear is heavy. Or, is it just the fear of dialing numbers that makes the phone only APPEAR to be heavy?

Like any phobia, to those who experience the fear, it is indeed real. I accept this. And like any phobia, if you are going to be successful in some aspect of your life that this phobia is affecting, you just have to find ways to get over it.

The first thing I would tell you is that most folks actually enjoy getting phone calls from people asking for favors. It’s a Godfather thing. The mental test I would ask you to take is to think back to networking calls you have had over the years and think how you felt. Most likely, if you were at all able to help the person on the other end of the phone, it felt pretty good. It would be a shame if you denied this good feeling to others. So, don’t do it. For goodness sake, give them a chance to lend you their wisdom and to share their friends and business associates with you.

The only thing to keep in mind is that you want to call folks who have some reasonable chance of being helpful. This means you have to do your homework before you start dialing so you are contacting the right individuals. And, you might want to follow our protocol of sending a short note first so they know why you are calling.

The second step is to find ways to practice. Any behaviors that you practice you are bound to get good at. If you want to find a source of “victims,” may I suggest our new members? Okay, so they aren’t really victims, but there are usually about 40 of them each week and surely you can find something you have in common with at least ONE of them every week.

Not only will you have the opportunity to practice cold calling on a friendly audience, but you will have the double benefit of spreading the knowledge and practice of our many unusual folkways. Like democracy itself, we may not be perfect, but we have just about the best thing there is in networking going for us.

What to talk about? Well, the truth is that “small talk” isn’t as easy as it first appears. But, the weather isn’t a bad place to start. Everyone has some of that to talk about. It gets you past those first few minutes and lets you and the person on the other end of the phone relax.

The second truth about cold calling is that any excuse will suffice. I would just ask that you not start on the defensive.

I much prefer “Is this a good time?” to “Is this a bad time?” (No, but if you call back at 3PM, now that will be a bad time.) Be positive. To be defensive or to bring up negative thoughts implies that you are not worthy of speaking with the party on the other end of the phone, and we all know that isn’t true.

The other thing to be sure you are doing is to SOUND upbeat. If the thought flashes through my mind that you are going to ruin my whole day, chances are I may not want to talk to you.

Cold calling initially requires setting up a crane and 8-12 part pulley to get that phone receiver to the right height so you can speak into it, and then a cold chisel and sledge hammer so you can hit the right keys and dial the number. But, after a little practice you will find a feather will lift the receiver and you will just have to “think” the numbers for the phone to dial.

The transformation is amazing. But then, so are you.

Regards, Matt

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