It appears to me that a simple, yet important, professional skill is disappearing from American business. The return phone call, once a common courtesy, seems to be going the way of profit margins. I can’t tell you how many times in the past year I have been flabbergasted at the lack of professionalism of business people encountered during our work for clients. Our work often requires us to reach out to partners, industry specialists and other “notables” to help drive strategy or simply help sell our client’s products. Frustration ensues. And I am not talking about the normal frustration that comes with sales calls (we are expert at dealing with these) but rather, the calls that you were told to make by the very person that is not returning your calls. I understand times are tough and priorities are priorities. But I have a sneaky feeling that the motivation behind this lack of action is a feeling that if it doesn’t pay immediate personal dividends then why do it. I beg to differ. Collaboration is a circuitous effort. Finding new revenue streams from unknown sources implies hunting for it. Professionalism means knowing how to handle yourself with others and respecting everyone. The good news? It is really easy to spot a professional in American business now.
And for all those of you who say that the phone call (or its Skype equivalent) is dead because of email: good luck!