In today’s business world, we’re regularly invited to participate in phone calls to discuss “synergies.” Back in the day, this was called a networking call. But the term networking has been declared so 1990’s and synergy appears to be the new, hip term of the moment.
As a small business owner, I’m all for synergy calls. It’s great to meet people, put voices with emails/tweets/etc. and talk about ideas that could lead to future opportunities. However, the resulting synergy is only as good as the initial phone call. And since we don’t get the benefit of body language over the phone, it can sometimes be a challenge to create real synergy in a short phone call.
Here are a few things we can all do to ensure our synergy phone calls are productive:
- Tell people the purpose of the call. If you’re inviting someone to a synergy call, tell them that’s the purpose of the call. I recently had someone leave me a message they wanted to book me for a speaking engagement. When I called back, they said they wanted to “explore synergies”. No joke. I’m sure there are lots of people who refuse to engage in synergy calls. And if that’s their position…I say fine. No one should resort to lies and trickery to get someone on the phone. It’s just not cool.
- Call on time. This is a huge peeve of mine. I prefer to schedule synergy-type calls, so I can properly prepare. This means I put time into the call before it happens. Needless to say, it’s frustrating to schedule a call with someone and have them not call. Or call long after the scheduled time. On the other hand, I’m totally cool with rescheduling. I completely understand that clients come first – mine do too – and a last minute “gotta reschedule” is fine. I’ve had it happen to me plenty of times. But the no call, no show…another not cool thing.
- If you put a pitch on the table, be willing to listen to one. I can’t begin to tell you the number of times people call me, tell me what their company does and never once ask what I do. And they don’t let me get a word in edgewise so I can tell them. The purpose of a synergy call is an exchange. That means both people get to talk about who they are and what they do. IMHO, I don’t expect people to know everything about me or my company. That’s why we’re having the call. The phone call gives both of us the opportunity to fill in the blanks.
- Tell the person how they fit into your plans. Obviously, there’s a reason for the call. Let the other person know how you see them fitting into your organization. It might not be clear to them. For example, after explaining your background, talking about the company/products/services, tell the person how you might see them being a partner to your organization. “Whaddya think?” doesn’t give the other person enough information.
- Don’t look for an answer right away. If you’re asking for something specific, give a person time to consider it.
- Find a way to stay in touch. Not every initial synergy call will yield an outcome. Sometimes the whole purpose of the call is just to get to know someone, then find a way to stay connected. One way I stay in touch is via LinkedIn – it’s a professional network and since this is a professional call…it’s perfect.
Let’s face it…we’re all out there trying to make a living right now. And, building a network is a part of being successful, regardless of what company or industry we’re in. Conducting productive synergy calls will help us be successful networkers today and in the future.