Thursday, May 18, 2006

Why you shouldn't poo poo phone follow up

I received this message last week from one of our mentoring clients, Lea Ann Hutter, of Hutter Design in Los Angeles. Lea Ann and I have been working together to help her feel more comfortable networking and especially with following up on the phone. Lea Ann has had a breakthrough of sorts recently, so I wanted to pass along her messages so others can hear first hand how this can work. (Also, if you're a designer near NYC, check out our Pricing and Marketing Workshop on June 17th.)

“I'm getting more comfortable with following up on the phone, specifically with someone I really don't know. When it's a referral, there's already a predisposition to liking and openness, so that's easier. Following up on the phone with a total stranger is the hardest. Harder than meeting them in the first place.

At an event, it's totally acceptable to talk to strangers. That's what an event is - a gathering of strangers all interested in the same thing. On the phone, I am interrupting someone's work day on the assumption that I can help them. Also, the lack of ability to see facial expressions on the phone makes it tougher to read the connection.

So what I'm doing to overcome this is thinking of the phone conversation as an extension of the talk (however brief) I had when I met them in person. I envision myself talking to them face-to-face and I try to project the same friendly energy that I find easy to share in person. My growing comfort with phone follow up is a result of your encouragement to call people. Once again, thank you.

I also realized when I got a flood of emails from my AIGA job post that I appreciated it when a few people emailed and called me too. I didn't see it as an interruption, because they helped me single out and evaluate who I wanted in a sea of resumes. I also figured that anyone who called me has good business etiquette and has a stronger interest in working for me that the people who just emailed. If I apply that positive experience to the way I think of calling potential clients, I can see that it really can be helpful, even welcomed.

I just made a follow up phone call to Charles Hollis Jones thanking him for lunch last week. I also wanted to ask if I could send him occasional samples, and he said yes. Then we talked about that LA Modernism show. He said that he goes to a lot of events and invited my husband and I to join him at a book signing coming up. I wasn't expecting an invitation and am so happy to have received one. He also thanked me for the follow up phone call.

I know it's not a lot of people (yet), but the few I've made an effort to call after meeting have been so receptive! Phone following up is a breakthrough for me. I never used to do it, but I am now and it's working. Now I see that a lot of people probably don't follow up by phone (because it feels hard/awkward), so if I do, I will stand out and greatly increase the likelihood of creating a relationship with people. When I do my printed promo, I will definitely make follow up calls after the mailing.”


Blogger G. Scott! Design said...

What do you do if you get voice mail? Do you leave a message and not call back? Do you call back and not leave message? Or do you leave a message AND call back?

7:48 PM  
Blogger Ilise Benun said...

You will almost always get voice mail. That should be your expectation. And yes, you should both leave a message and call back.

Also, you should get the person's email address (usually easy to get from the receptionist if you say you left a voice mail message and need to email some information) and integrate email into this process. So that basically, you are alternating between phone and email until you get a dialogue going and they are answering your questions, such as, "do you work with people like me?" and "do you want to see some samples?"

Make sense?

8:00 AM  

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