If marketing is important to your professional success, then you know the drill. Other professionals are hard to reach. You want to connect with potential referral sources. You want to build your relationships with current and past clients. You know how important it is to take the time to have coffee with individuals in your network. But if you are like me, you also know that no one answers their phone and email messages often go unanswered. I’ve written about this on a number of occasions (e.g. here , here and here). I’ve also written about the importance of not relying too heavily on social media for your marketing.
Like any recruiter, I generally fail way more than I succeed when trying to reach prospective candidates, potential clients or potential referral sources.
So writing about the subject is my way of reminding myself that persistence can pay off. People are busy. They don’t necessarily ignore you willfully. Sometimes, it takes several email messages, a voicemail message and a message left with a secretary to get through to someone. The key is to not take radio silence as an automatic rejection. Spread out your communications and use different media (alternate email with phone calls, etc.)
I don’t really have anything new to say about the subject. But here is a recent anecdote I wanted to share.
There is a general counsel I have been courting for several years. About a year ago, I did one of my periodic check-ins to see if she had any hiring needs (I actually left a voicemail message but she responded by email). In her email, she indicated that she is not in need of my search services and that she would contact me if she did.
It felt a little off putting, but I reminded myself that it is dangerous to read too much into an email message. It is hard to get the tone right in electronic communication.
Instead, I decided that I would follow up with her periodically with in-house job orders of my own (i.e. I would only contact her to ask for candidate referrals when I had good jobs in her industry).
Eventually, she did respond back with some candidate leads.
Then I wrote to her and asked if she would introduce me to one of her contacts. I never got a response and once again, I was left feeling that I was being perceived as an annoyance.
But I followed up a month later and sure enough, she had never seen my email. She was pleasant and more than willing to help when I finally spoke with her on the phone.
It would have been easy to cross this person off of my call back list. Instead, I set aside my personal feelings of rejection and persisted. And it paid off.
So remember not to give up when you are trying to reach people in your network. At some point, you do need to move on. But if you don’t try several times, you may be missing good opportunities to connect with people who can be of help to you (and who you might be able to help).