Ertugrul Belen & Optimist Publishing House
Some prefer telephone calls over e-mail, thinking that this way it could be short, easier for one to express themselves, better to hear one another's voice. For them, this is a more genuine and spontaneous attempt to connect.
Some pick e-mails, as they can write about their expectations, read through and correct spelling errors, allow the recipient to think through and reply, and make sure written notes would not fly away.
It would be a mistake, though, to look for a direct link between your methods of following up on people and your personality. We cannot conclude that e-mail writers are introverts and telephone supporters are extroverts. Whatever your motive is shapes your preference. We head towards our telephones for quick, straight ahead feedback, whereas e-mails prove to be more conclusive and lasting. One other advantage of following up on people via e-mails is honesty they entail because people know that they cannot take back what they've written. There's still a chance to "dodge" after telephone calls, but e-mails remain in the recipient's inbox.
How to call people?
Before dialing the number, just go through what you have to say in your mind. Unless you rehearse before the call, you may fail to conclude where you want to get at. Rehearse especially before calling your important contacts, your most important customer, for example, and note down the topics you'd like to touch upon. Prioritize these topics and create connections with them. Don't leave the most important topic to the end of the conversation. Let's say you have to share bad news and you don't want to start the conversation with this straight away. Then, share it along the course of the conversation. Note that, however, it just would not be wise to say "by the way..." just before you hang up.
Answer incoming calls by smiling. When you call someone or receive a call, people you are talking to first focus on your tone, rather than the words. How's your morale? Are you down or up? In some cases, it would be odd to sound happy, for example while you're spreading the word about a negative development. With the exception of sensitive cases, make sure you smile. Although your counterpart does not see you, they will feel it.
When you call someone, first introduce who you are. The things you say may pass over your counterpart's head while trying to figure out who is calling. Don't make it harder. If the person you've called is a not a close contact, avoid the temptation to ask how it could possibly be the case. While talking to a person you've never or just met, just saying your name may not be enough. Try introducing yourself and how you've reached them before getting to the point. Be clear: “Hello, I am author Ertuğrul Belen, the founder of Networking Academy. We met in the HR seminar of ABC Association". And you need to give your counterpart a chance to remember you. If they remain silent, they may have not recalled you. Just keep on talking.
Don't beat around the bush while telling why you're contacting them. Speak distinctly and get to your point. To make sure if what you're asking makes sense for the other, allow them to talk back and ask questions. Leaving room for the other during your talk is the way to go. It allows you to figure out the reaction of your counterpart. If you keep going with your monologue, you may not be able to "reach" them once you call them again.
Before ending your call, make a quick assessment of the overall talk. Thank for any feedback you might have received and don't forget to share a phone number for the connection to keep going.
Being prepared is possible before giving a call to someone. What if you're the one who is being called? Each and every phone call may stress you if you're a person with weak telephone skills. Breathe in deeply, and make sure to answer by the third ring at the latest. Smile before answering and ask who the caller is unless they have introduced themselves. Note down the person who has called. Repeat their name to make sure you don't mistake them in the future. Also note down why they have called you and the topics you have talked, along with their full names. If the phone call requires you to follow up on the caller, do return their call once you're finished.
You may want to use an answering machine to be accessible all the time.
While leaving a message in an answering machine make sure you've replied the following three questions: Who you are, What you're calling, and How they can return your call. You may not get your point across if you swallow your words or forget to breathe for the sake of being as quick as possible. All in all, the call will achieve its purpose only if your counterpart "understands" you! Don't change your tone and speed.
If you're unable to access your e-mails for a while, you may create an automatic "out of office" reply, which explains why you're unavailable, that you'll reply your e-mails when you get back, and contact persons in urgent cases. Moreover, if you have an international group of senders, I'd suggest you to prepare this automatic reply in two languages.