This week I’m honoured to introduce you to Dimitra Chronopoulos. She and I have connected through this blog, Twitter and LinkedIn and she has generously offered to share with us one of her own “phone stories”.
Are you reluctant to make a second phone call when your first gets no response? Don’t be! Unless you know without a doubt why someone isn’t returning your call, one particular experience has convinced me that it pays to try again.
Several months ago I attended a symposium for people who work in arts and culture. I have been actively seeking new clients and opportunities in this field, and I was eager to learn and network.
During the course of the afternoon, the comments and questions of another participant in my discussion group reminded me of a checklist in a book I was reading. I thought the checklist might be of use to him. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to speak with him before he left. When I got home, I looked up the organization he worked for online. I was hoping to find an email address so that I could send him a copy of the checklist. This organization, however, listed only phone numbers for its staff, no email addresses.
I don’t mind making phone calls. I find phone conversations incredibly helpful and satisfying in my work as an editor and as a volunteer coordinator. In this particular case, I thought an email message would be more appropriate and efficient since it was a written document I wanted to share. But all I had was a phone number. So I made the call and left a succinct voicemail message that clearly identified my intention and purpose:
Hello, my name is…. I was at the symposium yesterday but didn’t get a chance to speak with you. I wanted to share a checklist on xxx, which I think would be useful to you. I called to ask for your email address so that I could send it to you. If you are interested, you can reach me at….
And then I waited. I had called on a statutory holiday (oops!), so I couldn’t expect to hear back from this person for at least a few days. When more than a week had gone by, I wondered:
- Was he not interested in hearing from me or in what I had offered to share?
- Was he on vacation, ill, at a conference, or away for another reason?
- Was this a particularly busy time for him at work?
- Had my message been lost or forgotten?
There were countless reasons for the lack of a response, and speculation was pointless. The only question that mattered was this: Should I call back or just drop it? It wasn’t a matter of time or effort; a second phone call would take only a minute. Still, I hesitated, fearing rejection or indifference.
I had been following and sharing The Phone Lady’s blog for over a year, and was actively trying to apply her lessons as I intensified my networking efforts. So I couldn’t help but remember her advice: Don’t be afraid. What’s the worst that can happen? People are busy! Just because they haven’t called back, doesn’t mean they’re not interested.
I stopped speculating and started dialing.
This time, he picked up. As soon as I introduced myself and said “I left you a message a few days ago,” I heard an enthusiastic, “Yes, and I’ve been meaning to call you back.”
He was happy to hear from me and grateful for the offer of a checklist. I was also able to share something else: He hadn’t collected contact information for most of the other members of our discussion group. I had. In addition to the checklist, I was able to send him all of the names and information I had jotted down at the event and acquired through research afterwards.
I made a new connection in the industry and proved myself of value (I am thoughtful, willing to share, and a good notetaker) and he got information to help him in his job—all of which might not have happened if I had summarily and prematurely decided that “he wasn’t interested.”
Not every phone call is so pleasant or so fruitful. Some people will be uninterested. Some won’t return the second call (or the third). The only way to find the fruit is to make the call! So take a deep breath, be prepared, and dial.
Dimitra Chronopoulos enjoys working with others to create value and beauty, in objects and experiences. As a freelance editor, she had contributed to the production of everything from textbooks and journal articles to websites and novels. Her clients include museums, non-profit organizations, and fellow editors.