I hate my phone. After 14 years in sales, spending a couple hours each day on the phone with customers, I try to avoid it whenever I can. I prefer text and email.
But the phone is still the best, most effective, most efficient means of communication I’ll ever hold in my hand. Rather than texting back and forth for 20 minutes just trying to figure out where to go to lunch, I can call my friend and we can make arrangements in 30 seconds. Rather than answer a client’s questions via email, I can call and give them what they need in a couple minutes.
As I try to get better about using my phone for actually calling people, there are five phone calls I’d like to make each week.
- A birthday call to a friend: I called a friend last week to wish her a happy birthday, and she was so pleased and surprised to receive it. She said “you could have just written ‘happy birthday’ on Facebook, but I’m glad you didn’t.” That short phone call meant more to her than dozens of Facebook likes and two word greetings. Saying happy birthday to people on Facebook has become so easy that people don’t call or send cards. I usually send private birthday emails to friends, but after the response from this woman, I’m going to make more birthday calls.
- Call a mentor: You need a mentor or three as you’re progressing through your career ladder. And if you don’t meet that often, it’s a good idea to touch base once in a while. Plus it’s nice if you can just call to see how they’re doing, rather than waiting until you need something. Be sure to keep in touch with past mentors this way too. Pick up the phone, and chat for 15 – 30 minutes. This may even be a time saver if you’re extra busy. A 30 minute phone call beats a 60 minute lunch.
- Call a mentee: Is there someone you’re leading? Don’t wait for them to call you. Show that you’re interested in them and want to make sure they’re doing well. Call someone who looks to you for guidance, just to check in and see how they’re doing.
- Call a past client: Hopefully you established a good relationship with your clients, enough that you could call them at a moment’s notice just to see how they’re doing. Find a past one, and for no reason at all, call them to see how things are going. You don’t need to sell them or get them to return. Rather, just check in and shoot the breeze for a few minutes. Just because you’re not working together doesn’t mean you can’t keep in touch. If anything, it may help them decide to return to you one day. (You should already be calling current clients on a regular basis, which is why they don’t get their own entry on the list.)
- Call a former co-worker: Check in with a former co-worker, someone who’s still stuck in the trenches, or one who has moved on from your workplace. Catch up on the latest office news, see what’s going on, who’s dating whom, how badly did office morale plummet after you left, etc. Not only does this help you maintain these relationships, but it can even help your networking and job seeking efforts later.
You don’t have to spend hours and hours each day on the phone. In fact, even if you otherwise never make phone calls, you should make these five calls each week, one per day. If it helps, schedule them ahead of time so you always remember to do it.