I get about a couple requests a week from strangers asking me to take some action (look at something and give feedback, talk on the phone, meet for coffee). It’s astonishing the variance in quality of such cold calls. For anyone who has a blog (like me) there is an abundance of material that can make a cold call more meaningful.
So, I hardly ever agree to talk to someone random who says, "Hey Ben, read your blog, wanna talk on the phone this week?" On the other hand, I do like talking to people — like a fellow named Dan did today — who provide more color. Something like, "Hey Ben, I’ve been reading your blog. I share your views on religion and self-improvement. I don’t agree with you on X, but would love to talk about it sometime. Here’s some background on who I am. XYZ. We also seem to share XYZ as friends."
I still write cold call emails to people I want to meet — though far less frequently than I used to, since I’m now usually a degree or two away already — and always try to show that I have looked him/her up and do see real reasons why we should talk. Perhaps similar interests. Common friends. Common career path. Common reading list. Whatever.
There’s no excuse not to make a first-time interaction rich. With blogs and Google, every cold call can be warm.