I recently heard an interview with actor Bill Murray in which he said that courtesy is one of the most important things we could teach our children.
How about our colleagues?
I've lost count of how many of my phone calls and emails are unanswered by people with whom I already have an established connection. I don't take it personally – it's just a rotten way to do business.
Of course, the onus is on us to make sure our correspondence is legitimate. None of us need to suffer through boiler room calls pitching unneeded services (though my heart goes out to those making the calls).
We're speaking about phone calls and emails placed to help each other's businesses, be they to the media, colleagues with whom we're looking to collaborate, or, of course, new business.
Wal-Mart realized this more than 50 years ago. Sam Walton instituted the Sundown Rule, in which Wal-Mart associates pledged to give their customers same-day service. As written at Wal-Mart's website, “When we show a sense of urgency, we show people we know their time is valuable.”
An example from the opposite end of the spectrum: I was once out socially with two marketing managers from different consumer goods companies. They were actually laughing at the number of unreturned phone calls they received every week. "Pardon me," I said, "but aren't you being paid to find the best marketers for your company?" Both, last I checked, are no longer with their firms.
Only something good could happen by keeping connections open. Almost 20 years ago, we had an idea for our client, Nikon, to showcase photographs of baseball cards at its then-exhibit space, Nikon House.
One call to baseball-card manufacturer Topps led to another call to Carole Coleman at Major League Baseball who returned our message, loved the idea, and worked with us to make it happen. Even better, MLB became a client, which led to working with the other four sports leagues, Nike, Sports Illustrated, and many other sports-related clients.
The pressures of our jobs may give us an excuse to overlook the easy things, but it's those easy things that sometimes lead to the most satisfying successes.
Jeff Graubard is the founder and president of The Graubard Group, a full service marketing/PR agency in downtown NYC since 1992.