In my line of work, there’s a lot of
cold calling. Sure I get work through agents and bureaus, but the majority of my work i get through “dialing for dollars.” And while you may not need to make cold calls to bring in an income, you still will need to occasionally call people that you either don’t want to, don’t know, or for some other reason. Humor, in these cases, can be your friend.
I’m not saying you should
start in on the jokes. . .almost nothing is worse than a comedian who is “on” all the time. I’ve been around those people, and it’s like they have to have constant approval that they are funny. BUT what I am saying
is that you can look for ways, during your conversation to find humor.
When i call someone, for example,
and they’ve got a tough name to pronounce, then instead of me hacking up their name (which irrates them), I usually kick off with saying something like “can i speak with Joe I’m-going-to-mspronounce-his-name” . . . I don’t make fun of the name, and I don’t change the name, but I let the phone answerer (who is sometimes Joe himself) know that I am going to butcher the name. Sure this flags the receptionst that I don’t know Joe personally, but hey, when i butcher his name, it’ll be pretty obvious anyway. My method will usually prompt a laugh AND the person will correct me with the pronunciation. Then we’ve established a little rapport.
Or if I get to talk with Joe, and he
is so excited about my keynotes that he gives me his email so I can send him my information, and the email is really long, then I usually come back with “you don’t get much spam do you?” They’ve heard the “wow, that’s a long emmail” comment enough. . . so use a different line.
How do I cold call and find these opportunites for humor? Well, here’s a few tips:
Relax – seriously, not everyone likes making these calls (I don’t mind ’em myself), but if you’re keyed up and tense, and you’re thinking about how much “unfun” it’s going to be, then you’ll only be focusing on getting your “elevator pitch” out and hanging out, instead of trying to build repoir (spelling). If you’re not trying to build even a tiny bit of a connection with the person you’ve called, then it won’t work.
Make a face — this is my method when I’ve screwed up something or when I’m talkng to someone who isn’t all that receptive. If nothing else, it makes me laugh, and then I’m more relaxed.
Close your eyes — This is the scarred cat way of cold calling and it works! The first time I told someone my fee for a corporate comedy show, I did this because I thought I was asking for an exorbinate
amount of money. The person didn’t blink. I know am asking for almost 4 times that amount. . .no eye closing. By closing your eyes, you can really focus on the conversation and block out other things like “oh
I see dishes in the sink that need washing” or “Which cat hacked up that furball.”
Which brings me to my next point. . .Be Present – make sure you’re doing something to stay present during the conversation. When I present a keynote about using humor, I emphasize the importance of being present as a way to find humor in the situation. . .if you are focused on other stuff, you won’t notice the humor right in front of you. So do a breathing exercise, meditate for a few minutes, or anything else you can think of to get back in the moment so
you give yourself a fighting chance of finding the funny.
And finally . . laugh. There’s a reason they call it “smiling and dialing.” Laughing and smiling really does come across on the phone. . .as does frowning and dreading the conversation. So force a smile, or a laugh, and it’ll help with the connection.
Thanks for reading,