By Caroline Potter, Yahoo! HotJobs
Between instant messaging, texting and email, it's a wonder anyone in business actually speaks on the phone anymore. The business shorthand that these technologies have created allows us to get more done with less effort. However, big decisions -- doling out freelance work, hiring someone, closing a deal -- usually require a phone call. You may be willing to make important calls to reach out to people, but what do you do when your calls go unanswered?
Career coach Deborah Brown-Volkman says, "Don't expect people to get back to you." Instead, employ one of the following four strategies to make sure you connect with these folks on the phone.
Step Up and Follow Up
Take an active responsibility for making a connection over the phone with someone. Says Brown-Volkman, "You cannot make one call and say to yourself, 'If this person wanted to get back to me, he would,' and then give up." She notes that people are now busier than ever and get sidetracked easily. "The individual is not avoiding you," she says. "You just have to persistent. That is how you'll get what you want."
Set Up a Set Time to Talk
If you're in the presence of the person you know you're going to try to get on the phone, why not try to schedule it while you've both got your BlackBerrys handy. Advises Brown-Volkman, "Try not to leave any meeting or telephone conversation without another one scheduled." Employing this tactic will help you avoid feeling pushy when phoning someone. Instead, "You're fulfilling a commitment you made to have another call."
Find Out When It's Best to Call
Just as in the dating game, the last thing you want to hear from someone in business is, "I'll call you." They are vague words that will, according to Brown-Volkman, keep you sitting by the phone for days. She states, "In the meantime, you may be going over the last conversation in your head again and again, looking for clues as to what went wrong."
To prevent this from occurring, if someone says, "I'll call you," respond with, "I know you're very busy. Why don't I just phone you? Is there a day or part of the week that I'm more likely to reach you?"
Pick Up the Phone (Again and Again)
Brown-Volkman, president of Surpass Your Dreams, shares a secret strategy for call-back success. She tells clients to wait three days after the last conversation they had with an individual and then call that person once a week until he returns the call. "Many people feel funny about this, but it does work," she says. She reminds callers, "Be as nice and gracious on the first call as the sixteenth call."
While Brown-Volkman doesn't advocate stalking a business contact, she says, "In many cases, the person you are trying to reach simply got busy and will be grateful that you were persistent."