My palms are sweaty, my hand shakes as I slowly dial one number, and then another.  Seven painful clicks later I raise the phone to my ear. RIIINNNNGGGGG, pause. RIIINNNNGGGGG, pause. I’m anxiously waiting. Wishing I hadn’t had quite so much caffeine this morning. RIIINNNNGGGGG, pause. Click. “Hello, we’re not available right now.  Please leave a message and we’ll get back to you.”

END. End. end… I couldn’t hit the end button fast enough.  Ok one down. Wait, I didn’t leave a message. Does that one count? I can’t call back now.  What if they can see that I’ve already called? It’s okay. I can call back later.

My palms are sweaty, my hand still shakes as I slowly dial one number, and then another.  This one is going to be better. RIIINNNNGGGGG, pause. RIIINNNNGGGGG, pause. RIIINNNNGGGGG, pause. No answer.  THANK GOODNESS.  

That was the play-by-play of the first cold call I did a few weeks ago.  I was so relieved when no one answered my first few calls. Maybe I subconsciously knew no one would be a brewery at 10 in the morning.  I’m part of a generation that communicates almost exclusively via text. I hardly call my best friends, much less complete strangers. Regardless, phone calls are a lot more personal and effective than emails.  So I made the cold calls. One after the other, each one slightly more confident than the last. I left the voice mails and even occasionally got a call back.

I think the biggest lesson I learned throughout this process was that sometimes the best thing to do is to just stop talking. People, in general, want to support a good cause. And if it’s possible for them to do so, they’ll let you know. I had a tendency to ramble on and on about what the museum was doing, when it would have been more effective to just see what the other person had to say.  

Now, overall, I am much better at calling strangers.  It no longer takes me 10 minutes just to dial the phone. I still get nervous, and I regularly feel like I’ve left a voicemail that is too long or had a phone conversation that was not effective.  But it almost always comes back to the idea of talking less and listening more. Know what you’re going to say and stick to it, the rest will work itself out.