I was talking with a new client last week, and she explained to me that she wasn’t one of those people who found it easy just to pick up the phone and talk to people. Now, keeping in touch is more than being able to pick up the phone (see 27 new (and not so new) ways to keep in touch with your network and (7 tools to help you keep in touch with your network) – but how do you get comfortable with picking up the phone and speaking to them without a prescribed agenda?
Here are my thoughts:
1. Identify what you are worried about
More often than not, if you don’t like picking up the phone and have an unplanned call, it’s because you are worried about something. So, what is that something?
Will I look stupid?
Will they think I am trying to sell something?
Will I know what to say?
Will the conversation dry up?
If you identify your, often irrational, fears, then it’s easier to put in place a strategy to remove the barrier and pick up the phone.
2. Follow them on social media
If you follow them on social media, it often gives you a real excuse to pick up the phone. Many people on twitter will tweet personal stuff, which allows you to easily and readily engage. For example, if a client of yours tweets about going on holiday to Cornwall in a couple of weeks. How about giving them a call to tell them about some great things to do in Cornwall, and ask if there is anything that needs to get done – which you can help with – before they go away.
3. Have some standard script items for your call
Knowing what you are going to say, before you actually pick up the phone, makes it easier to do it. For example, get into the habit of asking:
Is now a good time to talk?
And set a loose agenda for the call:
We’ve not spoken for a while, so I wanted to take the opportunity to catch up, and find out what’s happening in your business, is that OK?
4. Set the expectation that you will call
This is possibly the most powerful way to help you pick up the phone. All this is, is warning the person you will call, that you are going to call. This builds your commitment to make the call, and also helps the other person expect your call. In fact, if you do this well, they may even suggest a good time for you to call them. This expectation can be set in many ways. For example, you could send them an email in advance with an interesting article, and mention that you are planning to call them this week to catch up.
Or, at the start of the relationship you could set the expectation that you would like to be able to call from time to time to see how they are doing.
5. Don’t take it personally that your call is not answered
Very often, your call will not be answered or sometimes not returned. Don’t take this personally. The other person may be flat out at work, and not have the time to return your call. Or, they may not even have got the message that you called. Sometimes, their agenda doesn’t match your agenda – and that’s happened to me a lot when I have been following up on proposals which I have submitted!
What are your personal tips for helping you ‘make that call’?