Is it that hard to just hit the "reply" button?!
November 19, 2010 2:55 PM Subscribe
A large part of my new job involves contacting various people and asking them for information. How can I convince them to get back to me quickly?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I need to call or email people and ask them for information. I can't do my job without this information, and I have deadlines, so I can't keep calling them for weeks or send formal letters. So far, what I've asked them for has been easy to give--nothing personal, and nothing a two sentence answer wouldn't satisfy. Even an answer of "I have no answer" would be fine. (This might change later, but for now it's been pretty basic stuff.) Also, so far what I've asked for has been information that my having it would be beneficial to the people I'm asking. But I've never done this job before, and I'm finding that I just can't get people (different kinds of people from various walks of life) to get back to me in a timely manner, if at all. I leave a voicemail, or write an email, or both. Sometimes I leave a message with an assistant or visit a place in person and leave my contact info. A few people have gotten back to me, but most have not.
Of course I've had to call or email people and ask questions about stuff all my life, as everyone does. Maybe I've had to do it more than some, as I've had many secretary/assistant jobs involving planning events and setting up meetings. But the job I have now is different because a) I'm calling for myself and my work, not on behalf of a boss or company, b) the aforementioned deadlines, and c) this is a career job, not just a pay-the-bills job, and I actually care. I want to do it well. I'm sure I can do it well, but I can't do it at all without the information I can't get right now.
What I've tried so far:
-Being friendly, very polite and slightly deferential (this is how I naturally behave in professional situations anyway.)
-Explaining that it would benefit them to answer me. (This is common knowledge, btw, I'm being vague about what I do but it's something everyone - especially the people I'm dealing with - understands. It's not some obscure research project or something; it's a well-known way for them to have their voice heard.)
-Following up multiple times.
-Telling them that I have a deadline.
-Offering them information on what I'm doing and who I work for. (It's a new-ish company they may not have heard of, so I'll explain it if I'm on the phone, or send a link if I'm emailing.
These things have not worked. Possibly relevant info: I'm new at this so I might come off as tentative, but I'm not lacking in confidence generally. I'm female, early 30s though I look younger. I'm in New England so tactics like Southern OTT niceness or New York assertiveness would not be looked upon well. I'm in a relatively small place where who you know means a lot, and they don't know me. Though getting to know them is part of my job, and it would help them as well as me.
So I implore those of you who have success with getting responses quickly from strangers: Do you have tips, tricks, guidelines? Are there magic words? Help!
(Anonymous because my real name is on my account and if all those people read this then they'd *really* never get back to me.)