The Die-Hard Phone Jockey’s Guide to Social Media

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Sep 20, 2011

I’m not just a Phone Jockey; I am the proudest and most happily defiant of us. You may find this hard to believe, but I typically knock out five to six hours of actual connect time every day. Intense phone days for me head past seven hours, and an 8- or 8+ hour day is not unusual for me. Don’t misunderstand, I don’t mean total time working; I mean the time I’m actually connected on the phone. I really am a die-hard ‘Phone Jockey,’ and I always have been – dating back to the mid ‘80’s as a commodity broker, and then in years of contracting and telemarketing, and ultimately in my job of the past 24 years, as a consultant.

As a consultant, though, it took me almost ten years to arrive at my conclusions about phone time for recruiters. My first reaction to recruiters’ numbers identified no positive correlation between phone time and performance. In fact, I actually saw a negative correlation. Back in the 90’s, the best performing recruiters knocked out more placements at higher fees with less phone time than the less successful ones. So, when I heard the famous four-hour rule and then, upon asking for the data, no one had it, I became a true skeptic.

But, those were in the halcyon days of the great Bull Market, and I couldn’t realize back then that I what I was observing was absolutely a Bull Market phenomenon. I had to see the economy shift, and it took me until 2002 to be able to find my first data demonstrating that the recruiters who thrived in challenging conditions had dramatically higher phone time than those who washed out or simply struggled their way through. Thus, it wasn’t until I could sum up my new data in 2003 that I found my initial Bear Market faith in blunt, straight up, raw phone time as, for me, the ultimate measure of a recruiter’s real efforts. Since, I’ve come to believe that no other measure correlates more directly to the creation and sustainability of recruiting success. There are pros and cons to the measure, and I understand that. My position, however, is that when we understand it properly, no other measure is quite as powerful.

I guess that makes me a Phone Jockey twice. Once as a practitioner and then as a teacher and champion of the Old School rule of four hours per day. I prefer to think of it, though, as twenty hours per working week. More minutely, I urge that you master the art of being connected for all of 1,200 minutes per week. Then, returning to hours, I ultimately champion the 260-hour, 13-week quarter. While I’ve heard about the 4-hour rule since I first started serving recruiters, I’m unaware of any who monitor the 20-hour week or the 260-quarter with the same fierce faith and passion.

There’s one other Old School qualifier I must brag about. Up until 2009, I opposed and happily refused to engage in any form of social media. I viewed myself as the last 20th century man standing, and simply loved being the ultimate holdout against modern technology. I used e-mail extensively, but not without some very real resentment. I do recall back in the ‘90’s before I started using e-mail being on the phone with an industry leader in technology who wrote me off since I had the temerity to ask him how I’d get paid for the time I spent writing to people.

I must share a little bit with you about how I was converted. Not away from being a die-hard Phone Jockey, but rather into the addition of social media to my tool set – really, to my business arsenal of weapons.

My conversion

The context is this: up until the end of 2008, all previous economic downturns had been simply wonderful for my consulting practice. In tough times, people are simply far more ready to hear and pay for the tough pill of real change. It’s easier for people to justify working with me when times are hard, and so my business always thrived in the downturns, until the recent one. Fool that I was, when I saw the turnaround coming, just like everyone else. I was actually happy, thinking this one would be like all the previous Bear Markets, I so enjoyed. Talk about a gut punch! The effects started striking in January of 2009, and it didn’t take me long to discover how wrong I was.

During 2009, I engaged in the longest, strongest series of failure analyses of my career. I essentially rewrote the book of my business methods from the ground up, actually reinventing what I do. Most of this was truly practice-oriented, but I grew ever more aware of my marketing weakness. I’ve lived by the salesman’s arts, and until 2009, I never believed I needed to engage in any marketing outside of my cold call selling strengths. As I rewrote my business, though, my son was gently, yet powerfully, leading me into this new world.

What he finally was able to persuade me to do was this: up until the leveraging power of the Internet made it possible, marketing was always massively expensive and truly only available to great institutions and corporations who could afford it. But the advent of the Internet itself, especially social media, reduced the cost of marketing down to nothing other than sheer time and effort. Where in the past, the dollar cost of marketing was prohibitive, Nicholas challenged me that to choose to reject marketing today was simply a form of denial and laziness. Any person – even just a single individual – could now create their own personal marketing endeavor at no cost other than effort and learning.

Anther part of my son’s genius was this: he knew that with my Old School mindset, I did not believe in complex business plans which, in my judgment, tended to not be worth the paper they were printed on. But, he also knew that in my soul, I’m the truest believer in what I call “real planning” that you’ll ever find. I’m less about formal structure and far, far more about internal dedication and commitment. I bring a martial arts mindset and the infinite journey toward mastery to everything I do.

The ‘New School Masteries’

So, Nicholas created and presented our business plan in that manner. It was actually an interlocked set of four separate New School Masteries he presented to me as challenges.

Not only that, he assured me that each Mastery was sufficiently advanced as a technology and that all I would need to do would be to learn the skills of a user. I would NOT have to become proficient in computers themselves, any more so than I was as a user of word-processing or e-mail. It was just a new set of skills, not a transformation of my relationship to computers or technology itself.

Lastly, he of course was there to coach me at every turn. With every mind-breaking frustration, seemingly illogical action or incomprehensible error message (or just personal blindness and impatience to simply read what was on the screen), Nico held my hand and slowly, carefully, and gently explained the same thing as many times as I needed until the stroke of comprehension finally struck.

What were these four masteries?

  1. LinkedIn
  2. Blogging
  3. Email Newsletter Marketing
  4. Facebook

…You may be wondering, “Why NOT such social powerhouses as Twitter or YouTube, etc.?”

Of course, you cannot pursue every new technology, nor would I or anyone else expect you to. Please refer to the P.O.S.T. Planning article by Amybeth Hale from earlier this summer for further explanation. Only do what you understand, and only invest into what makes most sense to you. For me, Twitter’s time frames just don’t work yet. I may well cross that line, even here in 2011. But, I haven’t made that decision yet and I’m very happy to NOT be doing it at this point. On the other hand, I really do wish I were farther along in using You Tube. Its power is gigantic. But again, the demands of mastering recording video and the time investment required even just to spend time watching videos does NOT yet fit into my work schedule. So, in spite of being quite attracted to video power, I haven’t crossed that line yet, either.

The same freedom is absolutely yours. Don’t invest into anything that doesn’t compel your investment with clear rewards that are richer than the price of playing. The four media we’ll be discussing in the coming months are those that fit the criteria for me. In each case I hope to offer you the right way to think about the medium as a means of empowering greater performance on the phone. I’m happy for you to say, “Not yet,” of course. But if you’re intrigued by the possibilities, I intend to help you approach their usage in a way that fits into your Old School, die-hard Phone Jockey mindset.

In the coming parts of this series, in exactly the same way Nico taught them to me, I will introduce you to each one individually. That’s worth emphasizing.

One thing at a time

There is a great ongoing convergence driving all social media, today, as well as all our technology-driven personal marketing tools. But, if you let them all merge together in your mind the whole will be too overwhelming for an Old School soul to handle. You really do have to take them one at a time and dedicate yourself to them in a serial manner. At least if you’re like me you do. Then, the convergence can mature on its own as you get there. First, pick just one and make the plunge. Then, if you’re ready, you add a second. Do NOT try to go too fast, you will regret it.

Our purpose in this series will not be to get you all the way to the point of convergence. Rather, I hope to help you use an Old School mindset to understand the power of just the four New School instruments I’ve personally tackled as I’ve made the plunge myself. After this, we will bring everything back together, giving you a Recruiting Phone Jockey’s map to the four that I personally employ, and hopefully empowering you to move forward…gently.

Enhance your telephone activities

As you contemplate these new tools for your recruiting practice, do keep this in mind: when a tool is working, it truly will empower your telephone conversations. In fact, allow me one specific example to make the point.:

For all the previous years of my career, I truly did have to fight for credibility with each and every prospect. That fight was both tremendously time-consuming and highly challenging. From the moment I started collecting testimonials in the form of recommendations for my LinkedIn profile, that battle changed instantly. I found that what I attempted to say on my own behalf simply did not carry one tenth the amount of credibility that reading what my clients said held. I’d collected testimonials before, but they’d never been organized, easy to access, and easy to check out on your own the way my LinkedIn profile made possible.

A key point has to be emphasized here. LinkedIn creates its own credibility, or perhaps I should call it a credibility premium. When your LinkedIn profile is invested into by those you serve, others who use LinkedIn are more powerfully affected by this than by the exact same testimonials in another format, such as your own website or more traditional marketing materials. That premium is something you simply MUST put to work for yourself, which is why I urge LinkedIn for every recruiter, even if you’re not going to engage in any other social media.

As we’ll tie down in our next article, the testimonial portion of your LinkedIn profile is the single most positively leveraged New School investment you’ll ever make.

I can assure you, the moment my faith in what my son was selling to me began to explode west the exact moment I noticed that I did not have to fight so hard for credibility on the phone. My Linked profile page was absolutely and undeniably the thing that made all that difference. That’s how I got hooked.

LinkedIn is the most powerful, but it’s just one example. Each of our four media demonstrates its own unique power and benefits for recruiters. In the coming articles to be shared over the next several weeks, after I introduce each medium and its tactical use, I will tie the benefit of getting it right straight back to your work, as I know you are the same kind of die-hard Phone Jockeys that I am.

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