A few months ago, I had this Twitter conversation with Eric Dodds (Brains on Fire) and Doug Tetzner (Shopify) about cold-calling:
Cold-calling got me my current job, my internship with Women On The Fence, and my role as Chapter Lead for Ladies Learning Code. No joke.
But ok, maybe ”everything‘� was a slight exaggeration – let me tell you a story…
I have spent the last two years working as a fundraiser for a non-profit while I was in university. I have had the incredible good fortune of working with an amazing director who has mentored me and is constantly encouraging me to follow my passion. As my college days were coming to a close in the Spring of 2012, I took my director out for lunch, told her I was looking into new opportunities’�and I started looking at my options.
I knew I didn’t want anything to do with:
– A government job (been there, done that)
– A job that felt stagnant
– A job for the sake of a paycheck
Enter the cold-calling.
I got busy researching. I knew what I was good at, and wanted an exciting job that would feed my creativity, independence, and my desire to take the lead and be challenged. So I got on the phone, emailed, and cold-called my way through Ottawa.
I had heard amazing things about Shopify, and was insanely excited when I found a posting for a sales support job. I applied within the hour. A week later (as I sort of expected, since I have ZERO sales experience) I got the gentle let down from Doug Tetzner (probably the nicest rejection letter ever, actually). But in the course of my research about Shopify I realized I was most interested in working for Harley Finkelstein, the Shopify CPO. Loved the #hustle.
So I emailed him out of the blue, introduced myself, and offered to work for free for a week – with the goal of proving my worth.
Bold? Yes, but it was sincere and genuine. It worked. Harley told me he loved my ‘hustle’ and a week later I was sitting in a comic-strip plastered room at the uber-cool Shopify offices, talking to their head of recruitment.
After a 30-minute chat with Doug, it became very apparent to both of us that Shopify was not the right place for me. My passion is social business, not ecommerce – as great as Shopify is, I probably wouldn’t have been happy. But it was a lesson learned, and experience gained. To this day I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to get the attention of and meet with some of Ottawa’s startup gurus.
Moral of the story:
Find your dream boss’ email, make a bold, compelling, and genuine proposition, and then have the guts to follow though. I mean, hey, it got me in the doors of one of the most influential tech startups in the country.
What’s the worst that could happen?