Has the Internet killed phone skills?
Does social networking limit the need for actual contact?
In short... NO!
I have been sitting on this for a while, brief communication with Michael Specht
and a recent article by Maren Hogan
really did push a few buttons for me, and made me feel a little guilty.
Social Networking, those magical sites that everyone is talking about.. you know.. the Facebook.com's, the Linkedin.com's, the MySpaces, great for recruiting right? How can you not make a bucket load of money just by using those sites alone... (if you believe all the hype)... Passive candidates found on these sites are way better that those that end up in your inbox from ad response.. in fact why bother posting ads to these job boards? it's all about the candidates found in these sites. Isn't it? (please detect tongue in cheek here). If you spend enough money on the right tool, spend enough time trawling these sites, In-mailing, IMing, DMing people will fill all your vacancies! Woo hoo... what have we been doing all this time? How did this world turn pre social networking?
What has happened to the phone?
I think this little bit of technology, which has been around forever, well long enough to not be considered new, is still the KEY to successful recruiting. I recruited pre email, pre websites, pre job boards, and you know what? I was able to do my job and make money... truly! serious! I may sound it, but I'm actually not that old! not even 35 yet, and yes I have recruited without these tools.
I got on the phone! I face to face networked, spoke to anyone and everyone... had a bucket load of business cards and kept a database (not a CRM, an ATS or any other acronym).
I mentioned at the start I was feeling guilty about things.. what you may ask? I find myself at times being seduced by this new technology, (iphones, blackberries etc don't help, bringing all your Internet, email etc with you everywhere you go) and ignoring the phone. Sending inmails on Linkedin, or just dropping emails to people... I sometimes placate myself with the idea that this is passive headhunting.. you know.. "if they aren't interested then they just delete the email", but basically it is lazy, and honestly doesn't have the best results.
The best results have come from finding names, picking up the phone and finding a way to have a conversation with someone. It's scary for people I know! When I was selling I had to really work myself up to it at the start.. lots of caffeine, hold my breathe and dial... (kind of sounds like when I was in high school, trying to ask a girl out)
However I went to a training course, from "sales guru" back in 1997, and whilst most of the session didn't do much for me and I couldn't find the interest to buy his audio tapes (remember them kids?) there was one bit that stuck in my mind about picking up the phone to strangers. What's the worse they can say? "NO!" yeah and..........? If it takes you 4 phone calls to make a dollar, then every time someone says no, you smile think to yourself "Thanks for the 25 cents!". Man that was powerful for me. This ideal, kept me on the phone. (in fact in my latest role, when I first started, I got questioned about the spike in the phone bill! That was great validation, especially when I could point at the record number of new hires.)
Now you may not have to do what I've heard of people doing in days gone by... I heard of people taping the phone received to their hand and wouldn't let themselves be undone until X amount of calls were made, and no I don't believe in boiler room style calling.
Confidence comes in the preparation (but don't use doing lots and lots of research and excuse not to get on the phone. Yes that's easy enough to do! Guilty your honour) You do need to do your research, qualify, whether it be for client or candidates, know what you want to say, or what message you need to get across. I don't believe in scripts, as you have to engage in the conversation, however you need something to gain their interest nice and early, just like at the start of an advertisement. You need to have knowledge about the subject, and a compelling reason for them to talk to you. Once the conversation is started, all the fear will disappear.. trust me... :) I twittered
someone on this recently, my comment "just like getting into a cold pool. A deep breath and dive on in.. once done, it can't be undone, gets easier from there. promise"
Just in case you are still scared of picking up that phone... in the dozen years or so, I can count on 1 hand the amount of times people have been truly rude to me.
It could be your differentiator, "WOW you're a real person, not just an email address."