A phone call to the right person can make or break a business, but cold calling with no real plan can often leave you with nothing but a dial tone.
One business owner and Bloomberg journalist has shared her tips on LinkedIn on how to get anyone to return your phone calls, even billionaire investor and philanthropist Warren Buffett.
Betty Liu is an anchor at Bloomberg Television and the founder and chief executive of Radiate, Inc. In her LinkedIn post, she reveals how she landed the network’s first ever interview with Buffett after years of trying. To date, she’s done half a dozen interviews with Buffett and says she has “sowed the seeds” of a fruitful relationship him the Oracle of Omaha and his associates.
Although Liu admits the six degrees of separation between you and the business leader you admire may seem like an “impossible gulf”, she shares four tips that will have your phone ringing before you know it.
1. Credibility counts
Liu admits the backing of an internationally recognised media organisation helped when making her first call to Buffett’s office, but she says anyone picking up the phone for the first time needs to be able to explain their credibility.
“Use every institution at your disposal to underscore why you’re important and why anyone should spend a minute talking with you,” Liu says.
2. Don’t expect them to call back
Sitting by the phone waiting for a return call is more than just a scene from a bad high-school movie, it’s a reality many business owners have to face.
But Liu says unreturned calls should be expected. The trick is to persist—without coming across as a pest.
“People call back only if they want something, too; and if you aren’t providing that for them, then they most likely won’t answer,” Liu says.
“Just remember that more times than not, they’ve seen your requests—they just don’t have any reason to reply. Your mission is to keep at it until they do.”
3. Give them something of value
Knowing Buffett is a “voracious reader and consumer of information” and Liu says she used this knowledge to help her secure the first interview with the business magnate.
By regularly sending him interesting articles, or pieces that he featured in, Liu formed a relationship with Buffett without ever speaking to him. She knew it was making a difference when Buffett’s assistant called or emailed for more information.
“I knew [the interview] would happen after he sent me a note by mail that he appreciated one of the stories I had sent him,” she says.
4. Do your homework
While Buffett was consuming the pieces Liu was sending him, she was also brushing up on her knowledge of him as well.
Liu says she is amazed at how many people choose to just “wing it” and approach meetings without preparation. She says it is essential to “do your homework”.
“Read up on the person you want to pitch to and stay on top of his or her comings and goings in the press,” she says.