Someone left me a voicemail the other day in which she said, “I know we keep missing each other, so I thought I’d try again. And hope that you appreciate my being pleasantly persistent.” Somehow, the way she said it, it really worked.
If outreach and building new relationships is part of what you do (and it is, no matter what you do), how you create the next conversation is always top of mind.
Nearly all of us need to be reaching out more, to be building more relationships and cultivating them with more care. When you reach out to someone new, especially when you reach out cold, you’re hoping for a “yes” to a first meeting, but more often you get a “no” or, more confusing still, silence. Then what?
The tricky thing about silence is that it can sound just like “no.” But it might mean lots of other things, for example: I didn’t notice your call/email; I’m not sure how serious you are; I really don’t have the time right now; you haven’t explained to me what value I’ll get out of the meeting; etc.
Take silence as an opportunity to fill in the blank with something other than the self-doubting, “Well, I guess they don’t want to meet with me.” Instead, persist, and do so in a way that demonstrates how you’ll handle the relationship once they let you in the door.
I like this notion of “pleasantly persistent.” It exposes the lie that we’re being persistent enough (we often aren’t), while also giving a simple descriptor of how to build a first connection that will lead to a constructive relationship. If you’re being pleasantly persistent, you’re communicating a few things: I take this meeting seriously; I know that I’m pushing, and I can tell that you’re a busy person; I will make a good use of your time. (Also, if you remind yourself that you’re being persistent in a pleasant way, it can help you overcome your own fears that you’re just badgering your prospect.)
Finally, this is also a good reminder of what you don’t want to be: unpleasantly persistent or quick to give up. Neither will get you there.