A lost art

Mar 04, 2019

It’s easy to send texts and emails, but to make a great and lasting impression, frequent phone calls throughout your network are essential.

We’ve all been there. You’re sitting in the office thinking about the next job you’re going to win, the next key hire your team needs, or making sure your active projects are getting done on time – and you’re having a staring contest with your phone. Maybe you haven’t had your cup of coffee yet. Maybe your favorite team lost the night before. Regardless, you don’t feel like talking to anyone and you’re having a tough time picking up the phone.

It’s no secret that the internet and social media have made it easier to connect with your network now more than ever before, but they have also created an environment where real human connections are often lost. This represents a fantastic opportunity for you and your firm to stand out.

In today’s society, where it feels like most issues can be solved with a simple text message or email, why would you ever need to talk to someone on the phone? Here are a few reasons why it’s still important to be intentional about calling people on a daily basis:

  • Recruitment. Recruiting and retention are the biggest challenges facing design firms today, according to our 2018 Principals, Partners & Owners Survey. Due to challenges in the labor market, traditional recruitment methods often fall short of a company’s needs. Keeping in touch with friends and business partners is a great way to keep your ears on the ground to see if your friend or someone in their network is in a position to make a career change.
  • New work. In our industry, many firms fall victim to an attitude prevalent in professional sports: What have you done for me lately? Out of sight, out of mind is a cliché for a reason. Other firms are certainly calling your clients for an opportunity, and if you aren’t keeping in touch with your business partners on a regular basis, they could very well give another firm a chance to exceed their expectations.
  • Calling clients without trying to sell them anything. This is something that is easily forgotten, especially in busy firms where it seems like there is more work to be done than your team can handle. In the field of professional services, contracts aren’t just transactional. They’re relational. Your firm is selling the long-term capabilities of its employees, not a product. Show your clients you and your team care about them by calling in without any intention of selling them something. You will be surprised by how this resonates with them and how it could lead to a long-lasting friendship, or even a new project.
  • Resolve issues before they spiral out of control. As a leader or principal of your firm, these may be internal. It may be a branch office that is not operating very well, or a disgruntled employee who is wreaking havoc on a team. As a PM, issues always arise from scope, schedule, or budget. Reach out to those with problems to prevent the issue from becoming more serious.
  • Good friends are hard to come by. We all build relationships through our work, whether they are through consultants, contractors, or co-workers. Picking up the phone and giving an old friend a call might just make it a great day for both of you.

Don’t settle for complacency. Pick up the phone. Help your firm stand out among the rest.

John Bray is an advisor with Zweig Group’s executive search and recruiting team. He can be reached at jbray@zweiggroup.com.

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.