|Be ready for all types of scenarios|
when you are making phone calls.
Prepare well for the 5 types of after-networking phone scenarios
Once you have met a decision maker at a networking event and have sent him or her an email or letter, follow up by phone to strengthen the connection. But first, prepare for the five phone scenarios you will likely encounter when you make such calls.
Scenario 1. Voice Mail
Up to 90% of business calls go straight to voice mail. Be ready to leave the decision maker a voice mail message that is short and to the point. Write and practice your script so it will sound polished and free of lengthy pauses and “um’s.” Exude confidence. Don't leave a return phone number; instead announce that you will call back soon. This approach allows you to stay in control of when the conversation will occur.
Here is an example of an initial voice mail message:
"Hello Mr. / Ms. Doe. This is John Smith. I sent you a letter/email the other day requesting a brief conversation. I will call you again tomorrow."
After the fourth such voice mail message over the course of a week or two, leave a return phone number and send another letter or email stating the difficulty in connecting and that you will follow up again soon.
Scenario 2. Decision Maker Wants to Talk by Phone Now
In this scenario, the person answers and wants to talk. Be prepared to lead the conversation. Ask three to four questions to show you are interested in the company, its culture and any positions for which you are suitable. Also ask if there is someone else at the company with whom you could speak.
Since you can't see body language on the phone, listen for verbal clues such as shuffling papers or a rushed response that could indicate the person is losing interest in the conversation.
Scenario 3. Decision Maker Wants to Meet
This is the ideal scenario and what you set out to accomplish when calling the decision maker. Know your schedule and be flexible to accommodate the person's schedule.
Scenario 4. Decision Maker Does Not Have the Time
Some people can't or don't want to meet and a few may even be rude about it. Realize this does not mean you will run into rude people every time you network ... so keep trying elsewhere.
At a minimum, identifying people who are rude provides you with intelligence about a company (even if it is rude!) and whether it is a good fit for you.
If the decision maker doesn't have time to meet, seek a brief phone meeting or identify someone else in the company who may have more time to speak.
Scenario 5. Gatekeeper Runs Interference
Gatekeepers, such as a person's executive assistant, may try to keep you from reaching the decision maker. To get past the common gatekeeper question, "What is the purpose for your call?," respond, "I’m following up on note of a personal nature. Is X available?"
Such a response is a basic tenet of communications control -- by asking a question, you require the gatekeeper to stop asking questions and start answering them.
What other tips do you have for networking by phone? Share them via the Contact Us tab or on the LinkedIn group discussion board that might have brought you here. And remember to network well and then follow-up by phone ... it can help you Get a Job!
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Thanks, Lynn for educating us about phone networking! If I can be of help to you in your networking efforts or any other aspect of your job search, let me know know. Invite me to connect on LinkedIn and then feel free to ask me questions there or send me a message through the Contact Us tab. -- Kathy