A Phone Sourcer’s Voice – Getting Comfortable with The Gatekeeper

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Aug 3, 2016
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

In 2006, after a few years as a watchful community member and a group manager, I wrote my first article for ERE. The article was called Names Sourcing: What Is It?  and it was about phone sourcing. Ten years later, phone sourcing is what I’m still writing about today.

In the two decades I’ve been practicing as a phone sourcer. Many changes have come and tested our industry but nothing has tested it like the penetration of electronic communication over conversational communication over the two decades that I have been practicing as a phone sourcer.

Throughout the last decade especially, our industry has been silencing itself; hiding in encapsulated bubbles tucked beyond the reach of candidates and anyone whose caller ID doesn’t fall under the recipient’s current “like” list. We’ve fallen into the habit of spending countless hours a week curating social media accounts, email, InMail, electronic job boards – you name it. We are doing anything and everything except the one thing that can and will connect us to another live, breathing, sentient flesh and bone creature coexisting on this planet. We are avoiding having a real, live conversation that calls for accountability.

I was recently asked a question in an interview for an upcoming keynote I’ll be giving on phone sourcing in Australia. The question was, “what did I want my legacy to be?” I was both taken aback by the question and grateful. I realized that I’ve quickly grown much older in an industry I love and I was flattered to be asked. But getting to the necessary business of legacies; what I want mine to be is for people to use their voices again as they’re supposed to be used and to connect themselves with one another emotionally because our voices are our most powerful tools.

Our voices connect us to one another in the most powerful ways. Your voice allows another person to not only hear something, but also to feel something.


Gatekeeper Keep

Do you often think, “What am I going to say if the gatekeeper asks me what am I calling about?”

Don’t worry about it so much!

You can have all the perfect words but what you say isn’t as important as what you said when you first showed up on the gatekeeper’s stoop.

What I mean is if you didn’t approach her in the right way, say the right things in the right way when you first called,  she wouldn’t be asking you these questions in the first place!

When she answers, tell her your name. I call it removing the mystery and repeat her name back to her if she told it when she answered, and then ask for what you want. No more, no less.

Words don’t matter at this point. It’s not what you’re saying, it’s how you’re saying them. Speak distinctly, slowly and to the point. Sound confident and be polite. I repeat, you can have all the perfect words. Nobody remembers what you said but they may remember how you made them feel.

Your voice clues the Gatekeeper to ask you questions. The person listening to your voice thinks she knows what you’re going to sound like so she thinks she knows what you’re going to say.

Your voice is important. Record yourself and listen to your voice. It may surprise you!


Continuing Education

I’ve recently reinstated an old community favorite, a weekly online “chat” about phone sourcing that happens every Tuesday at 12:00 Eastern Standard Time in the Facebook group Sourcers Unleashed and you’re invited. I’m also about to launch a weekly one-hour radio show about phone sourcing where we’ll talk live about phone sourcing and you’ll all have the chance to “hear” our voices because I believe it is the very volume, tone, projection and texture of our voices (no, it’s not the words!) that make us the phone sourcers we are today. So, be sure to tune in!

Now, I have a favor to ask.

Voice Messages is a documentary film by Martin Zied that “speaks out about the wonder and beauty of our most powerful instrument: the human voice” and is a project I support.

I encourage you to watch the trailer for the film here on Indiegogo. If the message about the human voice speaks to you as it does to me, please consider supporting it if you can. If you can’t, I’d appreciate it if you’d pass the message to others for consideration.

I get it that phone calls may seem tedious to some of you and don’t possess the excitement of the wiz bang technology that many of you enjoy so much. I promise you, though, if you just give the phone a chance, it’ll surprise you with its liveliness, with its responsiveness, with its hope.

In my next article, I’m going to talk about the importance of tone and cadence when talking with gatekeepers.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
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