“What’s cooler than being cool? Ice cold!” – Outkast
First, I apologize for getting Hey Ya! stuck in your head the rest of the day.
Second, you’re likely wondering: What does this Outkast lyric have to do with sending potential clients or employers a cold e-mail introduction? The short answer is it has to do with building confidence. Most freelancers are terrified of the cold introduction because the hit rate is typically very low.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re doing cold outreach as a copywriter, sales person, artist, or even a marketer. Far too often freelancers psych themselves out before they ever make a phone call or write an e-mail.
This person has no idea who I am? Why would they work with me?
Cold e-mails are such a waste. They work like 10% of the time.
I hate getting cold intros, so why would I want to send one?
Do any of these excuses sound familiar?
Have you ever read an article like this one about how other people have increased their business with cold e-mails or calls and within five minutes you’ve completely talked yourself out of ever trying it? Don’t lie. You have. I have. It’s human nature. We’re all preprogrammed to run away from rejection and, let’s face it, from an odds perspective, cold outreach is almost guaranteed to reap more rejection than success.
So why do it?
Well, in my best legendary college basketball announcer Dick Vitale voice, it's because of the “tremendous upside potential, baby!”
Cold intros lead to new business and new business is critical – especially if you’re a freelance writer. New clients and new contacts are the lifeblood of a growing freelance portfolio. If you’re reading this and you’re happy with your client base and they give you steady work and you have no worries about the work ever disappearing and you don’t want to increase your revenue – good for you.
For the rest of us, the way to grow your freelance business likely relies on two things: referrals and cold intros.
Today we’re tackling the cold introduction side and how to maximize your chances of having a successful exchange. In other words, to go back to our opening quote, we’re going to teach you how to be cooler than cool (even ice cold) when it comes to cold intros. Here are four tips:
#1 Change Your Definition of Success
This one is really important to start with in terms of having the proper mentality. Too many freelancers define success with a cold introduction in a black-and-white, binary manner.
Did I get a new client today? Yes or no?
This is a terrible way to measure your success. Of course it would be fantastic if you wrote a cold e-mail and immediately got work. And that will happen. But that’s a best-case scenario.
Rather than define your cold e-mails by framing them in terms of getting a job directly from that one intro/call, you should change your mindset to:
Did I start a potential new client relationship today?
Do you see the difference? This will change everything for you. This takes the pressure off of a yes/no answer from your cold intro. And it drastically increases your chances for success. Yes, you’ll get plenty of outright “nos,” but if you’re being polite and professional and you’ve done your homework, you won’t get answers like: “No! And don’t every contact me again for the rest of your life!”
This leads to tip #2.
Too many freelancers define success with a cold introduction in a black-and-white, binary manner.
#2 Make Your “Ask” Easier to Say ‘Yes’ To
If you’re e-mailing or calling someone who can potentially pay you for your work for the first time, you know what you want – and they know what you want. WORK! However, that doesn’t have to happen on the first exchange. Just like every single random product or course you’ve seen an ad for on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter, the first exchange is just a top-of-the-funnel introduction.
It’s an e-mail that says, “I’m here, I’m legit, I do work that you might like… but hey, no need to talk about it now. Just wanted to let you know I exist.”
In practical terms, if you change the goal of your first e-mail from, “I need work now” to “Wanted to introduce myself, let you know why I’d be a good fit for your team, and I hope to open the lines of communication to hopefully work together in the future,” your odds of success increase exponentially.
And here’s a fun bonus: If you do this super delicate, soft sell-type intro to start, you will find yourself getting job offers before you even ask for them. Watch.
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#3 Turn a Cold Introduction into a Lukewarm Introduction
A 100% cold e-mail introduction takes two parties to work. It means that the two people in the exchange know next to nothing about each other. You, the freelancer, know nothing about the person you’re getting in touch with, and they know nothing about you. But guess what?
You control 50% of the exchange!
When you’re thinking of writing a cold e-mail to someone, you can either send a basic, form e-mail that has no chance of success… or you can dig in, do your research, and use the introduction in your e-mail to explain how much you know about this person, her company, her brand, whatever.
When you do this, you’re knocking that 100% cold e-mail introduction down to 50%, because half of the people involved (you) actually do know something about the other half. You know what 50% cold is? 50% hot… and that’s lukewarm.
#4 Choose Your Targets Wisely
Don’t just fire off e-mails to the ten places you’d like to work (or get contract work for). Make a list of the top ten places and then instead of ranking them from ‘Dream Job’ to the one you’re least interested in, rank them from ‘Most Likely’ to ‘Least Likely’ and use categories like: good fit, same style, common themes/interest, common clients/work, etc… Then start your outreach with the ‘Most Likely’ group to gain some confidence and momentum.
These tips should help take the fear out of sending cold emails and get you on track to building up a bigger and better client list.
Jon Finkel is the award-winning author of 1996: A Biography, Hoops Heist, The Life of Dad, The Athlete, Heart Over Height, “Mean” Joe Greene, The “Greatest Stars of the NBA” Series, and other books about sports, fatherhood, fitness, and more. Finkel is also the creator of Freelance Fortune: Write Words Like a Pro, Get Paid Like A Boss, a full video and e-book course that has generated well over six-figures in freelance assignments. It is a 100% proven, insider course on how to pitch, write and sell articles to any publication. Readers of this article can order it here for 40% OFF using the code word: writeclub.