You have your list of companies. You know your job target. Now you have researched the names of hiring managers two levels above the job title you are going for. How do you make the call? What do you say?
Here are some strategies to help you through the cold call dilemma.

1. When do you make the call? Make the call at 8 am or 6 pm. If the hiring manager is a senior level executive s/he will have an administrative assistant take the calls. So how do you get around that? Never leave a message. Ask when will Mr/Ms Right be in? What’s a good time to call? Keep calling.

2. The hiring manager finally takes your call, what do you say? I am (your name) who wrote you an email asking for your career advice. Would you have fifteen minutes to chat by phone or in person? If they say no, say thank you. If they say yes, set up an appointment.

3. What do you say at the meeting? Make some small talk, e.g. how you heard about the company’s fantastic first quarter earnings, or an innovative process, they are implementing, or an article you read in the WSJ. Be prepared to say three things about yourself. Do you have your pitch ready? Mention your past experience. Illustrate with an example of a major accomplishment. Tell how you can contribute to the solving the company’s problems.

4. Ask three questions about the company, their challenges, the hiring manager’s career path…after all, you are looking to go down that path. How did s/he get there? What are the intermediary steps? At the close of the meeting, take out your job marketing campaign with the list of companies. Then ask, “Would you be able to introduce me to someone who works at one of these companies? Are there any companies that should be on my list?”

5. Follow up with an email – NOT just a thank you for your time, but illustrate how you are differentiating yourself from other people with your job title. Repeat what you said about your skills. Restate what you can do for the company. Say what you learned during the meeting and connect the dots so the hiring manager knows that your skills are applicable to their situation..

You will get a lot of “NO’s”. That is part of your job search. That is why you need to start with a long list of potential companies and a long list of people with whom to network.