Connecting with your Community: Making Cold Calls

Often the hardest part about reaching out to community groups and schools is the first call. Most people have little trouble when being introduced through a common friend, but find picking up the phone and making a cold call to be terrifying. You may be wondering: “Why do I need to make cold calls and how does this apply to my Club/Association?” Or you may have decided to begin an outreach program and now are having trouble connecting with local groups.

Making cold calls to new groups can be key to growing your youth membership.

By connecting your Club/Association to local groups, organizations and schools through cold calls, you can position yourself as the local soccer expert, while using the relationships you build to connect potential players and families to your programs.

You may never get over the general discomfort of making a cold call but you can get better at it! To improve your cold calling skills and build membership, here are a few tips that can help you make the call and get results.

1. Create a written elevator speech: This should be a short introduction to your Club/Association and what you are offering. A suggested temple is:

  • So What? What do you believe, what you do and why it needs to be done
  • What’s the goal? What does the perfect future look like if everyone followed your goals
  • Who are you? A brief introduction: how you are, what you do and how you do it
  • Why me? An overview of why you are calling and what you want to get done together;

2. Research first: Make sure you have a good understanding of the group you are contacting and have an idea in mind of who you want to speak with;

3. Warm it up: Ask around in your Club/Association, parent groups, friends list, social networks like LinkedIn, etc for connections to the community group/organization you are trying to connect with and ask if they are willing to introduce you or point you towards the best contact person;

4. Be personable and knowledgeable: Remember that you are the soccer expert and your goal is to partner together to build a better community for youth, players and volunteers. You are not asking for a handout; you want to help provide a service to the community;

5. Engage the listener: Have questions prepared to get a stronger picture of what their interests and needs. Your job is to start the conversation and offer up sample ideas and then wait to hear what sticks;

6. Make specific and direct asks: Say, “I’d like to invite you to join our Club as we strive to give children healthy alternatives through youth soccer.” This forces them to say, “Okay, that sounds good and tell me more,” or “No thank you, I’m not interested.” Either way, you have a next step to move forward;

7. Get the next step: If there is interest in your program, ask them follow up questions and propose a timeline for future meetings and discussion

  • What materials can I provide and when should I aim to have them to you?
  • When can we set up another meeting in person or via phone?
  • How can we best reach all your youth participants and can we schedule something directly with the parents?

8. Follow up: Send a follow up email within 24 hours of your first communication thanking them for the meeting, restating any deliverables/timelines discussed and reintroduce your elevator speech. Within the agreed timeline, provide any materials etc that was discussed in your meeting.

Hopefully these tips will help you make the first call and connect your Club/Association with local youth to grow your membership. Do you have any other tips, suggestions or questions? We would love to hear about your experiences making cold calls and connecting with the community in the comments below!

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About Heather Turney

Heather Turney joined WA Youth Soccer in January 2011 and is the Member Services and Outreach Coordinator. Heather coordinates our outreach programs (TOPSoccer, Soccer in Schools, Soccer Across Washington) and supports the department’s work on assembling best practices. She is experienced as a community facilitator and has been instrumental in linking our outreach programs with new communities and other nonprofit organizations. As we strive to link our member organizations with under-served populations and local communities, Heather leads us towards fulfilling our mission of making soccer the game for all kids.
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