I got my first client by making a cold call, well I say its a cold call but it wasn’t completely cold. Here is how you can turn a cold call, into a business opportunity.
The thought of making a cold call can turn your stomach. Who wouldn’t be scared to walk into a place of business looking for work or a contract? You know who shouldn’t be scared? Someone who has bills to pay and wants to be out here ballin’ like a boss. When you’re broke you have to step way out of your comfort zone and get your hustle on or sit down and stay broke.
When I first got to Ghana I had no professional contacts, the only people I knew were those I was following on social media, and my mom, he colleagues and her friends. One day over tea with one of her friend’s I told him I was looking for work and wanted to go introduce myself to TV Stations. He said he had a number for a guy at Metro TV and he gave me the number. (I called and dropped his name and made an appointment) I got an appointment. Before I headed out to the appointment, I took a video reel of my past work, a DVD of my show, and my CV. At our meeting I talked about my previous experience and projects I did as a producer. He said he didn’t have anything for me to do but thanked me for coming. I left without an opportunity but putting myself out there made me feel good.
Two days later I got a call from the guy.
“Hey, I have a friend who owns a company who is looking for someone to give them advice about fashion, from you CV, I think it is something I think you could do”. He said come to my officer on so and so a day and I’ll take you to meet him. I went and he took me to his friend’s factory. I took my CV again, my reel again, and another copy of my DVD. The friend said it wasn’t a job they just want someone with an eye to send them feedback. He said for that they were wiling to pay $500 a month. My last paying gig working as a consultant for an agricultural project in Northern Sierra Leone had brought $5000 a month and that was before I had student loans for the Columbia degree. I went home like am I really about to sign up to do anything for $500 a month. My loan repayment schedule had kicked in and I needed to pay $375 a month back to Sallie Mae. The next morning I decided I would take the gig because some money was better than zero money and also because I had no experience at all working in Ghana, nor working for a manufacturing plant. The opportunities to learn were going to be plenty. So I called the man and said this money is not good for me but I want to learn from you and see if I can add value so I’ll take the gig.
If you’re going to do a cold call successfully looking for opportunities you have to be really really prepared. Prepared for curved balls that is. You may not know what the company’s needs so go armed with all your skills and talents unless you’re aware of a specific opportunity that you want. If the person you’re going to see is not a decision maker, I would say your chances of turning that cold call into an opportunity might be limited. Gate keepers (not the gate man or security) the non-decision making staff who act like they have power but they are only supporting players will try to get in your way if you waste time giving them too much recognition. The way most business organograms work on this side is that all the decisions are made at the top by one person and often times that’s the hardest person to see but the one you need to meet. Young women should be especially careful when going on a cold call because if you raise your gaze in anyway what so ever people will look at like you like you’re there for something else. Go with a game face, maintain game face even if Oga does not. Be professional, courteous, and approachable but don’t make yourself appear available for anything other than business. Above all else be super confident. Speak like you own it, and act like you know.