Straight talk: Give good phone

You’ll find that I quote Kelly Cutrone every so often. The woman is a genius, and an example of street smarts over book smarts. She might not be the smartest publicity chick in the club. Instead, she’s the most resourceful and the most intuitive. Kelly Cutrone follows her gut, her dreams and the voices in her head and in her tribe that tell her which way to go next.

Read it. And weep. Tears of joy.

Kelly Cutrone says it best: “Give good phone.”

I wrote that statement in another entry I posted last week. But in the day and age of digital communication and online connections, the phone is still the best common denominator.

Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call someone. Cold-call someone.

Here are two rhetorical questions: How many emails do you send each day? And how many do you receive and actually read?

Email is not a primary form of communication. It is a way to follow up on a conversation, to document it. When I hustle, I HATE sending e-mails. I want to talk to someone to know they’re getting the message I’m sending.

For every acceptance I’ve gotten, I get at least five rejections. No, wait. I get at least ten rejections. But for each “yes,” each “maybe” or even each “let’s stay in touch,” it is a byproduct of reaching out to people. I wrote earlier about the sports editor who told me how his staff watched webcasts and called it reporting, but let me write about the ones who took the time to talk on the phone – or at least appreciate hearing a person’s voice and respond to a voice mail.

The same day I called that editor a few states over, I called a newspaper just down the road  and the sports editor picked up after three rings. I explained who I was, that I was a freelance reporter and I offered to cover any events here for him.

“I’ve read your work. Do you still work at the paper?”

“No, that’s why I’m calling. I got laid off.”

We talked for about 15 minutes about what was happening at my old newspaper and he asked me what I wanted to do next. “I want to stay in reporting somehow. Again, that’s why I’m calling. I’m just hustling right now.”

It was a very positive conversation, and he told me to email information on whatever games that might need covered for his paper. I hung up the phone feeling good, and went to my next call, the sports editor of a major metro in the mid-Atlantic.

I left a long message explaining why I was calling – not because I’d applied for a job in his department, but because I was offering to cover a college football game up the road from me.  I left my name, phone number, email address and the reason I was calling. Ninety minutes later, the sports editor e-mailed back. The assignment was mine.

I think I jumped and screamed and shouted in my kitchen for a good five minutes.

Bottom line: There are opportunities out there, it’s up to each of us to chase them down. Most of the time, it starts with picking up the phone.

***

(UPDATE: Two days after I called the editor just down the road, said editor e-mailed me to give me a stack of freelance assignments. I am eternally grateful to him.)

(That same afternoon, I called another newspaper and pitched my case to the editor, that I was making calls and hitting the bricks to stay busy and to help people. I was immediately offered an assignment … that I had to turn down … but got the word from the editor that I’d be on his list of contacts. “I like your approach,” he told me.)

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