Recently, I made a decision about a client of mine: I was going to call her once a week.
As with most clients, I conduct most of my business with
her on email. I provide updates via email. I share files. I provide
advice. I don’t spend a lot of time on the phone with clients (at least
one-on-one; we do lots of status and planning calls).
I decided to change that and give my client a weekly call. Just to check in, or chat, if we didn’t have business to tackle.
And you know what? I think my client likes it.
You know what else? I do, too.
My situation might be different since I’m an independent
consultant and don’t see or hear from many people during the day. But
this is a trend in our industry (and others): The trend away from voice-to-voice.
Blame smart phones. Blame millennials. Blame email.
Whatever, we’ve been inching away from phone calls for years.
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In fact, now reporters prefer email or Twitter. If I had
told you email would become the preferred pitch back in 1996 (when I
graduated) you would have called me crazy.
Yet, here we are. The phone is dead, according to many in
PR. But, I say the death of the phone has been greatly exaggerated.
No one else calls people–you’ll stand out if you do
Because everyone else emails, Twitters, Snapchats and
Facebooks, you’ll stick out like a sore thumb with your weekly phone
calls. I’ve also taken to doing this with my networking and
professional relationships. I look for opportunities (car time) to give
colleagues, former clients, and professional friends a quick call.
Since very few people do this, it’s remembered.
Eliminate 20 percent of your email with a few phone calls each week
One of the downsides of email and texting is the shorter
messages—the inability to explain everything in an email. We’ve all
been a part of the 45-email-long chains of messages about a project.
Wouldn’t a10-minute phone call work better? My new rule of thumb: If
the chain gets longer than five emails, I pick up the phone.
Phone calls: The second-best way to cement all-important relationships
It’s hard to build a meaningful relationship on email. Or
Twitter. Or Snapchat. Those tools are great for starting a
relationship, but it’s tough to build a deep relationship unless you see
that colleague face-to-face. Or talk to them on the phone.
Sure, face-to-face is always the best way. But phone calls
are a close second. Because you can have more than a 140-character
conversation about what you did last weekend. You can talk about what’s
happened on the project and not be limited by character count or length
of a note.
Phone calls will help you manage up better
Many managers are Generation X or Baby Boomers (not all, but
a lot). Remember, those people didn’t grow up with email. Or Twitter.
Or texting. We grew up with fax machines. And word processors. The
phone is still a great (and in some cases, preferred) way to
communicate with us.
Want to make an impression on your boss? Lay off email, and
call him or her once in a while. They may not have a lot of extra time,
so you may have to get creative (“Can I call you when you’re in the
I believe it will make an impression.
A version of this post first appeared on Arik Hanson’s blog, Communications Conversations.