In speaking with members of The FENG over the years, it is clear that everyone would enjoy hearing a few words of wisdom on making phone calls. Of course, everyone knows how to push the buttons on the phone, but apparently not everyone is having as much fun doing it as they should.
Over the years I have developed a telephone style that works for me. But regardless of your personal style, I think I can provide you with a few principles that will ring true for you as well.
The first principle is knowing something about who you are calling and the second is having that person knowing why you are calling. Knowledge on both sides is helpful.
For 4 years I was treasurer of my religious organization and I had to call members who had not paid their dues. The old procedure was to get a phone bank and some volunteers together and make all the calls in one night. My method was to keep cards on each member I called and have those cards in front of me any time I made or received a call from a member of our congregation. The short story is I wiped out all of our bank debt in 3 months and was able, by keeping my contacts personal, to retain many members who might otherwise have responded negatively to being bombarded by someone who didn’t really know who they were and why they hadn’t paid.
The analogy to your job search is to always know why you wrote or called someone and to have that information at your fingertips whenever you make calls and whenever you might receive calls. During my job search in 1991 (Yes, we had computers back then!) I had 1,400 index cards. I knew who I had called or written to and how I had gotten their name. In an instant I could turn a “Why did you call me?” into a warm fuzzy conversation. (Oh, George gave you my name. How is George?)
One of the principles I subscribe to is always writing a short note before calling anyone. You avoid two things:
1. The man from Mars syndrome – I don’t know who you are, what you want, or how I can help you.
2. The great conversation killer – Why don’t you send me a copy of your resume. (You may now never get to speak to those folks again.)
I think this is a great topic for discussion and as always, I welcome member contributions and guest editorial writers. How do you get past the fear of making phone calls? What great conversation openers do you use? Please send your thoughts to Leads@TheFENG.org. Be sure to use the subject: “Talking on the phone.”
As Franklin D. Roosevelt said: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”