Every once in a while, an old colleague of mine Francis requests a theme for a blog article. A few days ago he asked me why, when we shared an office, I’d seem to pick up every sales telephone call I received. He wondered why…

The mechanics of it are simple, I guess. I’m easily distracted. I also like to think of myself as being fairly polite. I guess what’s more interesting (particularly given that the boot to some extent is now on the other foot for me) is what would keep me on the phone.

I’d usually know fairly quickly on a call whether it had any potential value; I’d also know fairly quickly if I liked the person. The worst calls were the ones where it didn’t and I didn’t because, usually, that meant there was a chance I’d end up just hanging up (failing on my self-image of politeness). What would lead me down that path? Incorrect assumptive statements about me, the team or the company I worked for.

What would keep me on the phone? It wasn’t just the product; it would be if the person on the other end of the line engaged me as a person. Did I feel I could have a broader conversation with them? Did I feel that they wanted to know more about me?

Overall, I’ve also learned that some of the most important contacts in our working lives come through conversations that, at the time, don’t appear to have much value. There are several business contacts I have who have come through such routes, and there is a serendipity factor about business that should never be overlooked. If you are only ever willing to talk to people because they definitely have something you need, you’re essentially saying that you are all-knowledgeable. But in time-poor times, that strategy can feel like the best thing to do…

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