You’ve sent an e-mail to someone you don’t know seeking a meeting– maybe you are hoping it could lead eventually to an interview, or information about the company or industry, or possibly a valuable referral. Whatever the objective, don’t just wait and hope that the person will respond– you need to maintain control of the process and follow up with a phone call three or four days later. At the Five O’Clock Club we’ve found that it takes an average of eight phone calls to reach someone. When people don’t call you back or respond to your e-mail, it’s usually not personal. It just means that they are swamped at work. It’s up to you to keep trying.
Now, this doesn’t mean leaving a message every time you call. In fact, leave just one message. If it’s voice-mail, clearly state your purpose (include a reference to the initial e-mail you sent, and/or the person who referred you), leave your contact information, but then say “I will be in and out of the office so I will try and reach you again as well.” In other words, always keep control of the contact– don’t just leave it to them to call you back. If you are having trouble reaching someone, try calling them before 9am or after 5pm, the only time most busy people are at their desks!
If you get them on the phone, have your “script” ready. It should be a 20-30 second version of your Two Minute Pitch. Try to avoid mentioning that you are looking for a job initially, so they at least hear you out. Here’s a rough guide, in sequential order:
1) State the Purpose of your call
2) Value to them
3) Two-three “selling points”, i.e. very high level accomplishments
4) Reiterate the purpose, and,
5) Action Requested– i.e. “do you have 20 minutes available on your calendar to meet?”
Make sure when you speak with them, it sounds very conversational, that is, not like you are reading off a page! Here’s a quick example from my own experience that was a key stepping stone in landing an interview:
“Hi, my name is Rob Hellmann. I’m calling to follow up on an e-mail I sent you a few days ago about Fundraising at Ivy University. Did you by any chance see it?” <yes/no>
“Well, to summarize, I saw your interesting article in the Chronicle… about how you use Database Marketing to support Fundraising at Ivy. I myself have over 20 years of experience in Database marketing, including success in contact management and prospect segmentation. While not yet looking for a job, I’m starting to explore how I could use this background to support fundraising at Ivy down the road. I’d really appreciate hearing your perspective, and perhaps you would find some of my own experience useful to hear about. I think it could benefit both of us if we met.”
There’s a lot more to be said on this topic, e.g. how to deal with “gatekeepers” or other scenarios, but hope this helps get you started!