Saturday, 6 June 2009

Following up contacts

Following up contacts can be nervous making. I imagine contacts might be rude - unlikely, or expect you to know something you don't know so you feel stupid and embarrassed. I don't like following up but I have to do it. I think it must be like selling and following up leads; I need to know how to sell.

I plan carefully. If it's a phone call, there are four scenarios:
  1. They answer and say "Yes, do come and talk to our people and our consultants. Give us your dates and we'll draw up a timetable for to talk to three people the first date and arrange three or four others on another date". Ha! I'd be lucky.
  2. They don't answer the phone and I have to try another time. Procrastination is purgatory.
  3. They have an answer phone. I plan before dialling exactly what message I'm going to leave like name, where from, why I'm phoning, that I'll phone again, what my number is time and date of call
  4. Wrong number - check my records and look for the right number.
I also plan email. I write an introduction, why I'm emailing and I hope for a reply. Sometime it doesn't come for weeks and I don't know if it's because people are considering my request or ignoring me, so I hesitate to email again. Often they've very kindly considered my email, taken it to others in the organisation and discussed it. Some have come back and said:
"Sorry, too busy at the moment"
"Sorry, we've no suitable IT project"
"Sorry, we can't help you."
It's good of them to have gone to the trouble. Perhaps it's even been an AOB agenda item for a project closing meeting. So I'm grateful just for the consideration.

What bothers me is if people are worried that my research might expose them to media vilification. To allay fears I've written a short summary on my aims and methodology. Some have asked for my CV - okay. Others have checked my OUBS web page and followed the link to this blog. So I'm being open and honest about my research.

Perhaps my hesitation to follow contacts is because I don't know very much about the contacts so I can't tell if I'm wasting their time. Though I doubt anyone is going to come to me voluntarily saying "Here's our organisation. We used consultants on an IT project that's nearly finished. Do come in! We'll all talk to you."

No, my job is to sell my research - be a saleswoman.

No comments: