Receive daily articles & headlines each day in your inbox with your free ERE Daily Subscription.

Not logged in. [log in or register]

How to (Really) Connect With People

Maureen Sharib
Apr 7, 2011, 5:56 am ET

Lately I’ve been reading about how the telephone is so (19th and 20th Century) over.

The outcry goes that social media has reinvented the wheel and any of us left in that old telephone wheelhouse better come out into the light and get with it.

Despite all the naysaying snickering that goes on in the community about the old-school techniques that can’t seem to get out of their own way there is intense underlying interest in how to communicate with someone.

The “How to Make a Phone Call” article here on ERE has been riding the Most Commented/Most Emailed lists almost since it first appeared on March 9, 2011.

Let me tell you a thing or two.

The shiny bauble that is social media is a panacea for what ails those of you who want it to replace the telephone for communication.

It’s a cover for your fear of rejection.

It’s not that the telephone doesn’t work.

It’s that you don’t work the telephone.

It’s kind of like the Confessional.

You’d rather have a grid between you and others — a nondescript separation between your hurt feelings and the other person just in case that other person doesn’t “like” you.

A place where you can confess your sins and receive forgiveness for the inferior being you suspect you are.

That’s what we’re really talking here, isn’t it?

Fourth grade acceptance anxiety.

Get over it already.

Some of the best advice I received growing up was from someone (very successful) who told me, “Maureen, walk up to people and smile and stick your hand out and say, ‘Hi, my name is Maureen. What’s yours?’”

That advice has never steered me wrong.


Sure, I’ve met some cold fish who took a step backwards and haltingly extended their hand into mine — you know, that weak-sister kind of handshake that speaks volumes about the owner.

But for the most part that advice has served me well in life.

Go ahead and listen to the debunkers who say the telephone is dead. Keep passing the articles among yourselves, Gen X, that proclaim the phone is passé and go right on ahead, Gen Y, leaving copies of it on your manager’s desk in the hope that she’ll cotton to the theory.

In the meantime I’m about to begin a new project here on ERE called, “How to (Really) Connect With People.”

And I’m not talking your social media “connections.”

I’m talking about how to reach out using the telephone and make yourself compelling.

I’m talking about the fading link in communications today.

I’m talking real-time talking and real-time community building.

The old fashioned way.

The way that will never go out of fashion.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  1. Charlene Burke

    Yes Maureen! The best advice given to me when I first hung out the shingle to my agency: Inroduce yourself by name, ask them what they do, and connect. Didn’t have that as a kid…I was the wallflower type. Those who knew me then wouldn’t know me now because I have no problem in networking situations. As for the telephone? Let them think it’s passe – while we who know better continue to use it, handwritten notes and meetings at the coffee shop to connect and nurture those relationships. Looking forward to reading your next post.

  2. Hung Lee

    Hi Maureen,

    Let me first state that I love your work on phone sourcing, which I believe is an art that we are sadly losing in the recruitment industry, and desperately need back!

    However, your categorization of the social media as a cowards way out of a sales call is far too narrow. For sure, there are those recruiters out there who hide behind it, but those guys would be found out without or without the existence of social networks. They are also exactly the type who do not ‘get’ that the social web can be used as a perfectly viable business development channel.

    It takes skill and technique to understand how to sell through a new medium. And you can get blown out quite spectacularly (and publicly)if you get it wrong on the social web. It’s not the safe place you presume it to be for those with ‘Fourth Grade acceptance anxiety’.

    Is it really more brave to pick up a phone and risk being blown out over the call, than it is to write a blog post like this and risk getting flamed (like I’m probably going to) over it? This is permanent, for the record, for public view. A phone call is private, 1-2-1 and over in a minute. If I was that fourth grader, I know which one I’d have an easier time with.

    Once upon a time the telephone didn’t exist, and we sold through door-to-door or in open competition at open outcry at markets & fairs. It wasn’t a question of cowardice that led those traders to move onto the telephone. It was simply recognition that it was more efficient to make sales that way. Social media is just another technological change, and we’re going to migrate onto that in exactly the same way. Whether a twitter, facebook and the rest ever get more efficient that telesales remains to be seen. But we’re kidding ourselves if we don’t explore it.

    Great post, and I look forward to reading what everyone else thinks!

    Warm regards


  3. Charles Hillman

    The phone will always be needed but in conjunction with the internet, social media and whatever the next great tool is……

  4. G Forse

    Point: Maureen
    Counterpoint: Hung Lee!

    Very well said…of course, the existence of social media should only augment a good salesperson’s communication.

  5. Keith Halperin

    ISTM that for important relationships, the more direct the contact, the better: physically present is better than video, *video is better than audio, audio us better than text (email, texting). Each has its place….



    *I know it’s a bit early to talk about this…

  6. Social Media Guru

    Since you have towed the line, hook and bait, why not bite.

    Interesting how you assert that Recruiters use social media as a device to hide behind because they fear rejection. Could it perhaps be that you have a “fourth grade acceptance anxiety” to the pivotal shift in the way professionals communicate and interact? And, more importantly how we use web based tools to collect data and intelligence. I wouldn’t blame you if you do. If the phone provided me my livelihood I would certainly feel threatened by the technically savvy, web 2.0 recruiter. I mean, in a matter of a few hours he or she can generate a list of “A-player” candidates (contact information included) by using Google and Linkedin. This negates the need for name generation services, does it not? Is a phone call still important? Sure. But not necessarily as a first means of contact or as a primary tool to gather information. Not anymore.

    Hopefully, when you explain to us all “How to (Really) Connect with People” you will explain the importance of not insulting your peers who have opinions differing from your own.

    Before you respond to this — you probably want to – I invite you to call me in person. I can be reached at 1-800-“get over it already”. Of course, if you want to continue with your “naysaying” and “snickering” about social media by means OF social media…by all means.

  7. Recruiting Animal

    On April 20, 2011 (Wed at noon ET) my guest on the Recruiting Animal Show is a recruiter who works from an electronic database available to everyone in her field.

    She was getting into a slump using electronic communications when her friend – who is also going to be on the show – recommended that she go Old School. Since then she’s had a lot of success.

    If you’d like to call in, please feel free.

  8. Van Treadaway

    Well said. Relationship building the old fashioned way, face-to-face or voice-to-voice, beats email/texts/tweets/etc. any day. As Bill Vick once said, “For what it’s worth – my Mantra in Recruiting is the telephone is the shortest distance between two points and beats the Internet hands down.”

    Looking forward to really hearing more about “Really”! Van

  9. Brian Kevin Johnston

    Maureen- Great “call” on this article… Spending time cold calling people has declined in conversion drastically in recent years. Face to face meetings are the most productive in my view, however I require people to jump through a few hoops before I get on the phone with them (scarcity). My time can not be replaced, but I can always make more $$$. If I thought “dialing for dollars” worked I would do it (like I used to in 1997 when I started), but the world is way too complex these days.. You MUST have the best strategy for your recruiting funnel to convert, and I believe Inbound Recruiting is the future… (Get Found, Convert your funnel, Analyze/Scrutinize data)

    Best to ALL, Brian-

  10. Sandra McCartt

    When the phone starts being limited to 140 characters it will be time to give it up. Can you imagine what a phone call would sound like if you only got to say 140 words at a time and you were on a party line of 50 people all talking at once. Until a call is limited to 140 words, social media is just a fun place to play hide and seek with a plethora of crazies and bad opinion, information flopped out there by those who live in the brain trusts called tweet chats. Which remind me of the good ole boys who hang out at the Doughnut Stop and have an answer for all the problems of the world and of course politics.

    It is afterall social and they all think alike or just like to argue.

  11. Keith Halperin

    @ Lots of folks:
    Here’s an alternative “school of thought”-

    “Keep moving, moving, moving
    Though they’re disapproving
    Keep them doggies moving

    Don’t try to understand ‘em
    Just rope, throw and brand ‘em
    Soon we’ll be living high and wide”


    Yeah Rawhide, Podner!

    Happy Friday,

    Keith “Move the Meat” Halperin

  12. How to Really (Connect) With People: Up Close and Personal, Part I -

    [...] (Series intro) tags: networking [...]

  13. How to (Really) Connect With People: Up Close and Personal, Part II -

    [...] (Intro; Part 1 on communication techniques) [...]

  14. How to Connect, Part III -

    [...] Next week we’ll focus on how business communication differs from personal communication. Part II. Part I. Intro. [...]

  15. Jari King

    Hi Maureen,

    I know I’m a tad late responding to this article, but I’ve been hanging on to it to read when I “had a minute”. Finally today was that day and my response to your article is…it was delightful!

    You are a breathe of fresh air in an overly-technology and the latest-greatest is the way-to-go world. I loved what you had to say and as a hand-shaker, let’s talk rather than e-mail person…ain’t verbal communication grand!

  16. ALSC Consulting

    Great Article and Advice Maureen!

Post a comment

Please log in to post a comment.

Note: You need to sign up for an account on our new commenting system if you haven't already done so — even if you have an existing ERE account. Find out why »

Login Information