February 28, 2013

Which Medium Should You Use When Following Up with a Contact?


We own so many different gadgets nowadays, and they all can get you in contact with someone if you try hard enough. As I write this post, I have a laptop (obviously), a phone, and a tablet all within arm's reach, all of which can get me in touch with anyone in my address book within seconds. Off the top of my head, I know I can call, text, Tweet, Facebook message, Skype, or email any contact I choose. With so many options can come paralysis of choice. So, riddle me this: how to do you pick among those contact methods and not get stuck choosing? Or, more importantly, which method should you choose? Well, that depends.

So. Many. Choices.

Step 1: What's the message?

This is the most important aid in making a decision. A lot of us fall into this hole where we choose one way to communicate with a particular person. It works, and that's why we continue. However, like there's a time and place for everything, there's a medium of communication for everything. I admit, for the most part you can get away with sticking to one, with email (and sometimes phone) probably being the de facto method communicating. But remember, just because you can call someone doesn't mean you should, and the same goes for email. Or, you wouldn't email while you can call, or vice versa.

In order of likeliness to be used in urgent matters email sits atop the communication food chain. Going downward, there's the phone call (although some might interchange the two), texting, Skype, and, lastly, social media. However, a message that can be sent through social media can be bumped up through the ranks and emailed. But not the other way around -- a case of "all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares."

Step 2: Where are you/they now?

Like our real estate friends would say, it's all about location, location, location. Their location, to be exact. Admittedly, this is probably going to matter but a handful of times -- usually with something urgent -- but it's still important. Some communication methods are more likely to be received (and read) than others, so make sure to use that as context for how to communicate with some. When in doubt, play it safe. Email.

Step 3: How well do you know them?

Being familiar with the person should get you off on the right foot, and knowing how to get a hold of them should be second nature. However, the opposite exists. I'm talking about the person who is so bad at keeping in touch, that no matter how you contact them, hearing back is unlikely. I'm sure you're nodding yes right now. So how do you deal with that? The answer, unfortunately, is that you can't. Once they receive the message, it's more or less out of your hands. But hope exists, and that's all of the other ways of communication. Assuming that it's important, if they don't respond, try something else.

Which step do you find most relevant when it comes to reconnecting with your contacts? Let me know in the comments!