One of the most awkward and unnatural activities we face in our professional lives is the dreaded "cold call." I remember the first time I had to do it. I was fresh out of college -- a junior sales associate at an industrial marketing firm -- and my job at the time was to cold call potential clients for customer satisfaction surveys. And it felt stressful, awkward and completely unnatural.

But it was also essential for getting new leads. And that's true for many of us. Cold calling is the classic case of a "necessary evil." Terribly uncomfortable to do, but necessary for our business. And if that's your situation - here are a few tips to consider for taking a bit of the terror out of cold calling.

1. Never make a cold call totally cold. Chances are, you know someone who knows someone. Perhaps you went to the same college or graduate school or worked at the same company? With LinkedIn and other professional networking sites, you now have more potential inroads to finding connections than ever before. So do your homework, find any angle you might possibly have for facilitating the connection, and use that to your advantage to make a cold call just a bit less "cold."

2. Hold yourself to a reasonable standard. You're never going to bat 100%. So, don't hold yourself to that unreasonable standard. Realize your "hit rate" will be low and do what you can to increase the number of irons in the fire - so at least a few will be successful.

3. Evaluate your technique - and adjust. This is key because cold calling is a skill - and as is true with any skill, you want to hone your technique and adjust accordingly. For example, for you, it might work best to pretend you're speaking to a friend you already know - because that will make your tone sound warm and inviting. Or perhaps you like to script out the first few words, to help you gain your footing before launching into the rest of the conversation. Or maybe you like to mention the person who referred you as soon in the very first sentence - to give yourself credibility in the eyes of the person receiving the call. The point is to come up with an approach that works for you. You'll feel more authentic and, likely, be much more successful.

In the end, few people love to make cold calls, but with these tips in mind, and a positive, attitude, you'll be surprised at how successful you can be.