Is the telephone as effective as it used to be?

I recently noticed a tweet/status update from a connection who is a respected trainer in the recruitment industry. The post read: 'Why request your 1st degree LinkedIn contacts to introduce you to their contacts? Instead, pick up the phone and headhunt!

Whilst this statement has some merit, it did get me thinking about the changing nature of communication. I am not referring specifically to headhunting in this piece although I think the message is equally applicable to any type of sales call.

I am no stranger to cold calling, warm calling or any other type of calling, in fact I was professionally ‘brought up’ on it! I spent several years hitting the dial (or latterly keypad!) and I am certainly not against it - I just believe technology has changed how we communicate and this has resulted in the telephone becoming a less effective means of communication - especially when contacting someone for the first time. Here are the problems with an initial contact by telephone; Voicemail - Many business people use this tool as a way to screen incoming calls, if your message doesn't appeal or there is a lack of clarity in your message then they will just choose to ignore you. Authenticity - Receiving a call out of the blue from someone who you don’t know, have never heard of and can’t see can be disconcerting and often leads to a poor reaction/conversation. Someone is far more likely to respond positively if they know you or at least have some visibility of who you are.

The internet has allowed us greater access to information and as a result we now expect to know more about a person/business before deciding if we want to do business with them. Unsolicited calls from unknown people do not fit with this expectation and this is effecting the usefulness of the telephone - previously we had no option but now we can make more informed decisions and the telephone simply doesn’t help us make those decisions.

Lets compare this to contact made through LinkedIn - before responding to your message I can 'check you out' by viewing your profile. This tells me who you are, what you look like, where you work, what you do, where you used to work and who we have as mutual contacts. The message (if an Introduction) may have actually been passed on by one of those contacts and if that is someone I respect I am more likely to view your message in a positive way. Openness and authenticity are now so much more crucial in this ‘information rich’ world - hiding behind a telephone (caller number withheld) can often make life more difficult than it needs to be. Produce a great, authentic profile on LinkedIn and encourage people to read it before deciding if they want to do business with you - why should you want to hide anything?!

The telephone is still a great method of communicating and I would have concerns about someone who resorts to emails, social media messages and texts to communicate all the time but these new forms of communication should compliment the more traditional methods and are often more effective as an initial way of introducing yourself to a new contact.

There is always a danger of seeing traditional methods through rose coloured spectacles, yes they used to work well but are they still working as effectively today?