How to Connect, Part V

May 26, 2011

In this last and final installment of this series we’re going to talk about how to use low and high technology appropriately to tailor your message to your audience.

One of the ideas behind technology is that it empowers us to work creatively. By blending different technologies we can democratize communication in new and surprising ways.

If you buy into the theory (and I do) that future generations will design and build their own technologies by blending what works and what doesn’t work in different situations, then you’re far on your way to understanding that what works for one person might never work for another.

Once again, I’m going to approach this subject from a phone sourcer’s perspective and demonstrate how I blend the use of high technology with low technology.

Remember early on in this series when I delineated old (low) technology from new (high) technology in how we communicate?

BRAVE NEW WORLD (High technology)


Instant messaging

Electronic mail

Social media exchange

Cellphone (mobile)

Real-time video (telepresence)

OLD WORLD (Low technology)

Snail mail


Land line telephone

Face-to-face communication

Keith Halperin pointed out in the comments section of that first part in this series that I forgot real-time video (broadband/telepresence, Skype, etc.) so I added it above.

There are many in our community who insist that the use of technology (Internet search, e-mail, mobile applications, messaging, etc.) is all one (really) needs to perform the work that must be done in our industry.

In fact, Dr. John Sullivan recently wrote an article here on ERE that detailed how to recognize if you yourself have become a technology dinosaur and recommended doing what Jack Welch (past CEO, GE) did: acquire a technology mentor to upgrade your technology status in the event you are found guilty of more than five transgressions on Dr. Sullivan’s list.

I don’t agree with some of his postulations but then, none of us have to agree. As the many comments brought forth, different things work differently for different people.

And that’s my point.

Use what works for you.

Here’s what works for me on a typical sourcing job and here’s how it happens:

Work comes in through either a phone call (low tech) or an e-mail (high tech). The e-mails that come in are usually from established customers, all of whom were preceded originally by a telephone conversation (low tech).

Occasionally a job order gets faxed in (very low tech).

It warrants mentioning at this point that what once was high tech is now low tech; at one point faxes were very high tech, remember?

I look at the job in e-mail. Many times there are attachments to the order (job description, Excel lists of targets and/or names the customer already has, special instructions, etc.) and I format all that into a working document (using my handy dandy electronic Word skills — still very high tech).

Next I do the lowest tech thing of them all. I think!

I plan, I plot, and I posture the job into how I am going to approach it.

When I first started sourcing — and you’ve heard me confess this before — I would spend inordinate time on the Internet searching for information … scratch that … searching for names — that I could use on a job.

Remember, this was the mid to late 1990s, so Internet search was new and cutting edge (very high tech) and very few people knew how to do it. The results that came in could pretty much be used as long as they had been “checked.”

We all know what that means.

As long as the person was “still there” (meaning still at a company) they were pretty much good to go on the list that got submitted to a customer.

It was so much fun to be a whiz-bang Internet sourcer.

Today, not so much.

That same once-high-tech formula has now become a low-tech approach that is being misused in some sourcing circles and is the main determinant why sourcing fails in many organizations.

In sourcing far more sophistication is required today than way back then.

Remember when we started this final piece in this series, I said, “future generations will design and build their own technologies by blending what works and what doesn’t work in different situations“?

Those in the know in sourcing today have done just that.

Until interactive applications become practical (and this will take years), matching robust common-sense knowledge with computers enables a new class of sourcers to make sense of today’s world with a breadth of knowledge that can be integrated with (some) computer applications.

They’ve recognized that technology morphs over time and what’s new today was old back then and what’s old now was new before.

When Lou Adler said that we must kick the sourcing habit in a recent article here on ERE, he said sourcing is getting easier by the day.

He’s right.

I personally don’t agree with him when he says, “at the current rate, by March 11, 2012, everyone will be connected by one degree of separation with everyone else either via LinkedIn or Facebook.”

I think that ignores the trepidation that is beginning to develop in the population around over-exposure, but that tale remains to be told.

Sourcing (as most people think of it) is on the endangered list because its high tech approach is yielding inadequate and many times stale results.

So how can we make the old new again and the new old again?

We can learn how to communicate with each other, and yes, you can just about guess in what direction we’re going here.

What works for me in the next step in my sourcing process is another low-tech tool.

I get on the phone.

I said before that when I started sourcing (in the mid 1990s) I’d spend lots and lots of time on the Internet forestalling that fateful moment when I had to pick up the phone.

This has become a common low-tech problem that self-medicates itself with the overuse (and misuse) of the Internet.

Nowadays, on most jobs, it’s just way faster (for me) to pick up the phone and start talking to people to obtain the information I need.

It doesn’t much matter anymore how scary the job looks.

I just start calling my target lists, knowing that the more I call, the easier the job is going to become.

The more I talk to people, the more I learn.

I call because I know the majority of the people I need for my job I cannot find on the Internet.

No way.

No how.

This calling — what may seem to you a low-tech technique — may not work so well for you. I’m going to ask you why that is.

You can send e-mails (most of which won’t get read and those that do stand a very high chance of being misunderstood) and you can send text SOS messages out to your network of contacts or you could post your need in some social networking group you’re a member of.

You could even make a video of yourself detailing your urgent need for a medical device sales application engineer and tell them where to send their resume.

You can use all those high-tech channels and then you can sit and wait for results.

Unless you’re some mega-bucked organization that was way ahead of the curve and has been investing in today’s high tech so-called communication channels for the last 10 years, using all the high-tech gadgets of today isn’t going to mean squat if you can’t talk with somebody and make a connection.

I think communication that uses real-time analogy and association is the highest technology we as humans possess.

It’s a brave new world and, oddly enough, it very much resembles the old.

Part IVPart III. Part II. Part I. Intro.

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