I’ve been engaging in something this week that a lot of people find to be, well, let’s see… vile. Yeah. That’s a good word – a lot of people look at what I’ve been up to as vile. I don’t think it is, though. I think I’m actually providing a service. I am giving people an opportunity to do something that they might not be able to do otherwise… I’m trying to help them find a new, different, exciting, COOL job.

Yes, yes. I’ve been cold-calling (insert dramatic music here).

Essentially, I’ve come up with a list of people from various companies that we think might be good additions to the BSG Alliance team. I know where they work, so I’ve been calling the switchboards and being put through to the extensions. When I get a person, I try to take the first 15 seconds to introduce myself (stressing that I am not a headhunter) and to explain what the BSG Alliance opportunity is. So far, I have had one polite “No thank you, but I’ll keep your name,” lots of voicemails, and one very, very angry New Yorker.

Now, in the interest of full-disclosure… As much as I would like people to think that I am a native Texan, I was, in fact, born in New York. My mother and father were both raised there. My three older siblings were born there. I spent every summer until I was 12 years old on Long Island. I am a Texan, but I am also a *cough* New Yorker.

So, I feel qualified to say that New Yorkers, on average, tend to be angrier than, let’s say, Mid-Westerners or Texans. They have little patience for people who they feel are wasting their time. And, apparently, this woman felt I was wasting her time. She yelled at me. Actually raised her voice, kind of like I do with my little kids when they do something naughty, and screamed at me. I would venture to say that the cube prairie dogs popped up on her end when she started in on me, since it was *that* loud. I stammered a half-hearted apology, and quickly dropped the phone, lest she reach through the line and smack the crap out of me.

But, besides giving me excellent blog fodder, the experience also drove me to do a little more research on my cold-calling tactics. Turns out, I have a lot to learn (well, I expected that, I guess). I read a well-timed article on ere.net about Tips to Consider When Directly Sourcing Candidates by Scott Beardsley. He had some great advice, but I was most intrigued by this section:

The best way to do that is to make sure that each and every person you interact with is offered something before you ask for something.

Well, Scott, pray tell… How does one accomplish that in the 15 seconds you’ve got to get a candidate interested? Scott has an answer:

Too often, recruiters make DSNI calls with one thing in mind; how can the person on the list help me? They contact a total stranger and before they even get to know them, they’re asking for help.

That approach goes something like,”Hello, my name is Harry Swanson, a recruiter with ABC Company. I’m networking for a software engineer for one of my clients and thought maybe you could help me.”

While that approach is straightforward and evokes a person’s natural instinct to help, it’s also intrusive, disruptive, and can easily turn off the lead before you truly get to solicit their help. This is especially true if the person gets many calls from recruiters. They may be tired of being everyone’s helper and may wonder what’s in it for them.

Watch how they respond when offered something first. “Hello, my name is Harry Swanson, a recruiter with ABC Company. I’m currently representing a fast-growing, highly successful software firm looking to add new talent to its team. It’s a really good position, and the company has many benefits for its employees. It offers three weeks of yearly training, has an excellent employee value proposition, and is currently designing the next generation of software for the XYZ industry. Do you have any friends, family, or colleagues who might benefit from knowing about this great opportunity?”

Scott goes on to explain that the subtle difference in tone makes potential candidates feel that you are offering something, rather than asking for something. Scott has some other interesting insights in the article, as well, and I am going to use them tomorrow as I get back to work on the list. I’ll keep you updated on my progress as I work to find my voice.