We can start by sending them a thank you note (assuming we know their mailing address). This is always a great touch and one that is rarely used anymore – we’ve gotten too busy. Nevertheless, people seem to enjoy getting a handwritten (not typed, printed, or computer generated) note that they get in the mail. It doesn’t need to be fancy or lengthy. Just jot down two or three lines to acknowledge the visit and express an interest in working with them. The same note can be used for everyone.
We can choose to send them an email (if we obtained their email address). This works, is quite common, and people appreciate hearing from us. The only issue is that this might be the end of the conversation. If the person we are attempting to connect with doesn’t respond (they didn’t get the email, we typed their address incorrectly, they ignored us, they haven’t gotten around to responding yet, they didn’t know a response was necessary, or they intentionally ignored it), we have just one other choice – attempt to call them.
Of course, calling someone may be the first method of contact we think of and consider. Baby Boomers love to call people – as do the older generations. Millennials and GenXers, not as much.
So we decide to call the person we want to connect with and build our relationship. When is the best time to call? Be careful. There is only one correct answer to this question, that will come in a moment. First, all of the bad times to call.
We don’t want to call someone (on their cell phone, at home, or at work – depending on which number they gave us, time of day, and other governing conditions) at an inappropriate time, but knowing this is the real trick. Essentially, there is is no good time to call someone – but don’t despair. There is an answer.
We don’t want to call someone too early and interrupt the start of their day. Better not call until after 10, but then they might be in a meeting. We could try 7:30 or 8:00 and get them before their day gets into full swing, but what if they slept in or normally get up late? They might have school-age children they are getting ready for the day – or dropping kids of at daycare.
We can’t call anyone between 11:30 and 2:00 because they will go to lunch at some point during this time – and it might vary by the day. We could try calling them at exactly the same time we met them earlier in the week (or last week), but there is no guarantee they always are available at this time.
Some offices are closed during the noon-ish hour or hours anyway with no incoming calls being answered. Some offices are closed Monday, some on Friday. Some take Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday off, depending on that particular office or type of business. Some routinely close at 4:00, some close at noon on Friday.
So we call them on their cell phone and they are driving, eating dinner with a colleague or family member, at the ballgame, playing golf, watching TV, or otherwise not wanting to be interrupted. Weekends are out for the same reasons. Even if they took the call, their mind would still be on the activity we were disturbing.
Home phones used to work up until 8:30 or 9:00 at night (an unwritten rule than most people seemed to observe). Now so few people have landlines. Those who do generally don’t answer a call from any number they don’t recognize. It goes to voicemail, and this gets us nowhere.
OK, now the solution. We call people at the appointed time we have scheduled with them. Always schedule a specific time (if possible) or the date and general time range (“early afternoon”) when we are going to call them. Then make sure we do just that! If they forget we are calling or are otherwise busy, this is not a problem because we had their permission to contact them at this time. We may have to reschedule. We confidently can leave a voice message because we called when we had an appointment to do so.
This is the best – and only – time to call people.