It has been a year and a half since I quit my previous job and even to this day, I get calls and sales pitches all the time and am sold an array of things, all in relation to my previous role. These calls are all in earnest and sometimes it’s only towards the end of the conversation that I realise that they don’t know which role I am currently in and that the entire pitch was made in a different context.
I am usually a polite person and I don’t behave rudely in person or on the phone, but off late I did end up losing it a couple of times. In both instances, both in the middle of chaotic workdays, after a long and intense conversation, one about a service and the other about a tool, I figured that the person talking to me on both instances was pitching to me with a different role and organisation in mind.
This is where it starts to bother me, in this phenomenally digitally-connected world, where everything is one click away and you can find people and context in a jiffy, why are we so lazy to use the tools we have at our disposal and actually find out and get context before we start a serious conversation which is related to business or work.
I also hear a lot of friends complaining of instances where people in our line of work, both journalists and PR professionals grapple with this issue of not having bothered to find out about the person they are connecting with for an interview or a story. On one occasion, the PR professional called a journalist to place a story in a newspaper he had quit three years ago, so the media list this person was referring to was clearly outdated and there was no cross-reference that was done to verify. I have had many occasions where the journalists want to be spoon fed every tiny piece of information and when they come in to interview the spokesperson, sometimes they haven’t even read the material that has been sent to them.
This is not a story of the pot calling the kettle black, nor is it a rant. Clearly, from sales teams to PR folk, to journalists, we all have examples of this kind of behaviour and the only way to fix it is to remember to research and to ensure that all our teams know the importance of it.
An investment of a small window of time in researching a bit about the person or company can go a long way and can save us from an embarrassing situation too. Being well informed always gives us an edge over the rest and garners respect.
People appreciate effort and a Google search or a LinkedIn check before a call or a pitch or an interview can be a game changer and can also give us a lot of pointers on who the person is, their background, their interests and more. All of this makes conversation easier and will give us talk tracks and openings to lead the conversation in a direction that we want to take it in.
I’m going to take Robert J Sawyer’s quote which says “The heart and soul of good writing is research; you should write not what you know but what you can find out about.”, and just replace the word writing with pitching or interviewing and it will sum it up just about right!
So, the next time, Google it or hit search on LinkedIn!