Getting over that ‘electronic fence’ – Work Workplace Wonders Blog

I reckon you’re all going to feel me when I talk of the despair of trying to get a machine to hear you.

Take when you need to report a fault on your line. The loop d’ loop of electronic messages you have to answer correctly before the inevitable ‘on hold’ with infuriating musak. Then the joy of the operator who will only work from a script. Hours wasted and not much return because apparently the answer is simple:

just turn it off and on again! Grrrr.

This is what I call the ‘electronic fence’.

The wall of electronic communication that stops us from being heard. It’s a biggie when it comes to developing contacts and expanding profiles in careers because it stops us making meaningful contact.

How exactly does it stop us?

Us – aka modern workers – spend significant chunks of time corresponding electronically. In a busy schedule it means we can tick off those to-dos in a few keystrokes.

  • Make contact with top ten clients – tick!
  • Keep in contact with old contacts – tick!
  • Contact ten desired contacts – tick!
  • Sit back and relax – tick!

But have we really earned the ticks?

I think there’s a real danger of sitting on the outskirts – held back by an invisible KEEP OUT voltage. Hell I’m as guilty as anyone of not picking up the phone sometimes. I don’t do that to my clients though.

Here’s why.

To reach someone via the phone can be very time consuming. Generally you reach the voicemail part of the fence. You call, you get voicemail, so you try later and then ‘later’ gets voicemail. Okay. Not a problem – let’s try email, text, LinkedIn, Twitter….

Hooray for communicating a la mode.

But are you now just firing messages at the fence rather than communicating with another human being?

You can be the smartest, techiest whizz, deliver on all your business promises – but the career crunch comes down to whether people buy into you.  A simple truth I always tell my clients of is that people buy people.

When someone wants you they give you a VIP pass through the fence.

My fence-busting guide to getting a VIP pass

1.    Forget the scattergun approach. Shorten your list of desired contacts and then take a strategic approach. Don’t just move on when you hit the fence first time. Stick with that core list until you do finally get through. Perseverance pays. Boring but true.

2.    Work out where the holes in the fence are. When do you get a response? Is there a pattern? Look at the time a response email was sent. Does there seem to be a time when your contact is online, spending time on his or her inbox?

3.    Get back to basics. The fence makes us forget how people like to deal with people. Nothing beats a real, live business conversation. So don’t settle for buzzing back and forth through the fence and put in the face time. That means arranging a meeting, however far in the future.

4.    You don’t scale a fence in a day. Give it time – good relationships take effort. Stick to this plan and you will make it through..

Go on, it’s good to talk! My phone number is below, by the way…

020 8408 1008

About the author

Lucinda is an Executive and Corporate Coach. You can reach Lucinda on: uevolve, LinkedIn, Twitter

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