Over the course of the week I receive many phone calls and emails from people who need something. It might be a sales person for insurance or financial services. It might be a referral from someone I know and the person is looking to network for a job. It might be some other call where someone is hoping I might be able to help provide information. Now, I am busy. Not only do I manage my own business as a sole proprietor, I serve on a couple of boards, am involved with Boy Scout leadership, coach a men’s softball team, and am very engaged in my church. I made a decision many years ago that I would show the courtesy of speaking with anyone who contacted me. I may make a list of people to whom I need to respond to by phone or email, but I try to return the contact…..even if it only takes a moment for me to say “thanks, but no thanks”. It may take a few days and sometimes a week, but I am very deliberate in my efforts.
Why do I do this? There have been many times where I needed something or required assistance. I am also contacting potential clients. It would be somewhat hypocritical of me to ignore those who contact me and then get frustrated when others do not afford me the same respect and courtesy. A small part of my business is executive recruiting. I may only engage in 2-4 positions a year and the positions are generally with clients with whom I am engaged in other services. During the course of a search, I contact dozens of people by phone or email. Many of these contacts are referred to me and many are those I find through extensive research. I try and provide specific information in my communication and keep the contact very professional. It amazes me how many people I contact do not respond, even after I know they have read my email or received my message. No response, not even a “Richard, I appreciate the contact, but this is not a good time” or “Thanks, but I am not interesting in speaking about a new opportunity at this time”. What is interesting, is these same individuals would not hesitate to reach out to an executive recruiter if their position was being impacted. I have even received calls from some who said “I know I never returned your call/email, but you were so diligent/persistent in trying to reach me, I would love to work with you to explore potential opportunities”. WHAT? You don’t show me the respect and courtesy when I am trying to reach you and now reach out when YOU need something? Of course, I never would say this to someone because if I preach respect, dignity, and courtesy, I need to practice it ALL the time. It just makes me shake my head.
Return the call! Respond to the email! If you work for a company that provides a product or service, I am sure your company has people contacting potential clients. Wouldn’t you want your sales staff to be treated with respect and courtesy and not ignored? Jesus put it as succinct as anyone when He instructed “Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them.” Sounds good to me.
To Your Success,
Richard Davis, SPHR, SHRM-SCP