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  • Diana Schneidman

If you’re going for a business “relationship,” why not give them a phone call?

Marketing is so much cleverer in the last few years. It used to be about pushing out the message and amassing a large number of impressions and such. For big businesses that meant advertising; for freelancers and consultants, mailings and similar smaller-scale tools were the way to go.

But now it’s about relationships. So warm and cozy.

The word “relationship” used to refer to real interpersonal partnerships. For instance, it meant dating or getting engaged or even getting married.

Here’s what relationship building can mean nowadays:*

  • Manipulate Twitter to build a large following and drop those who do not follow back. You are a prestige Twitterer if you follow fewer people than follow you. Then set up a tool like Hootsuite or smaller lists right within your Twitter account to ignore most of those you still follow but not really.

  • Collect “likes” on Facebook. It doesn’t matter if people are interested in your business or not. It’s the numbers that count.

  • Purchase “likes” on Facebook through paid advertisements.

  • Send an automated direct message when someone follows you on Twitter to ask them to connect on Facebook or to buy your product.

  • Join 10 LinkedIn groups on the same darn topic and push your content out there.

  • Connect with LinkedIn LIONs (LinkedIn Open Networkers) you don’t know who link with anyone who will reciprocate to build their numbers.

  • Preschedule tweets and other social media participation weeks in advance so you can promote relationships at a steady pace while you are elsewhere.

I’ve got a better way to build a freelance or consulting clientele. I call it “phoning.” Others may call it “cold calling.”

I fail to see how the practices listed above are so warm and friendly and laudable while phoning is put down as impersonal and annoying and altogether yucky.

I contend that phoning—especially phoning people I do not yet know—is a much warmer step towards relationship building than much of what passes for relationship building on the internet.

What could be friendlier than a phone call, made by me myself, to someone whom I have reason to believe may benefit from my services?

I love to talk to people about their work and what they are trying to achieve and the obstacles and challenges they face. I’m an idea person who enjoys brainstorming on business strategies ranging from newsletter topics to implementing new marketing channels. That’s what I am open to doing (for free) in my phone calls.

Yes, much of my help is in exchange for money. While my initial observations are free, obviously I am paid for more extensive work. It’s only fair, seeing that my clients are also working for income.

Reaching out to a single individual to converse with them by phone is the epitome of relationship development to me. I can’t comprehend why common social media practices are widely perceived as superior in terms of relationship development.

*Note: I’m guilty of engaging in some of these practices too. Sorry.

Originally posted 8-27-13

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